8/25/2002                                                                                       View Comments

Dear Believer

by Dan Barker

Dear Believer, — You asked me to consider Christianity as the answer for my life. I have done that. I consider it untrue, repugnant, and harmful.

You expect me to believe Jesus was born of a virgin impregnated by a ghost? Do you believe all the crazy tales of ancient religions? Julius Caesar was reportedly born of a virgin; Roman historian Seutonius said Augustus bodily rose to heaven when he died; and Buddha was supposedly born speaking. You don’t believe all that, do you? Why do you expect me to swallow the fables of Christianity?


I find it incredible that you ask me to believe that the earth was created in six literal days; women come from a man’s rib; a snake, a donkey, and a burning bush spoke human language; the entire world was flooded, covering the mountains to drown evil; all animal species, millions of them, rode on one boat; language variations stem from the tower of Babel; Moses had a magic wand; the Nile turned to blood; a stick turned into a snake; witches, wizards, and sorcerers really exist; food rained from the sky for 40 years; people were cured by the sight of a brass serpent; the sun stood still to help Joshua win a battle, and it went backward for King Hezekiah; men survived unaided in a fiery furnace; a detached hand floated in the air and wrote on a wall; men followed a star which directed them to a particular house; Jesus walked on water unaided; fish and bread magically multiplied to feed the hungry; water instantly turned into wine; mental illness is caused by demons; a “devil” with wings exists who causes evil; people were healed by stepping into a pool agitated by angels; disembodied voiced spoke from the sky; Jesus vanished and later materialized from thin air; people were healed by Peter’s shadow; angels broke people out of jail; a fiery lake of eternal torment awaits unbelievers under the earth ... while there is life-after-death in a city which is 1,500 miles cubed, with mansions and food, for Christians only.


If you believe these stories, then you are the one with the problem, not me. These myths violate natural law, contradict science, and fail to correspond with reality or logic. If you can’t see that, then you can’t separate truth from fantasy. It doesn’t matter how many people accept delusions inflicted by “holy” men; a widely held lie is still a lie. If you are so gullible, then you are like the child who believes the older brother who says there is a monster in the hallway. But there is nothing to be afraid of; go turn on the light and look for yourself.


If Christianity were simply untrue I would not be too concerned. Santa is untrue, but it is a harmless myth which people outgrow. But Christianity, besides being false, is also abhorrent. It amazes me that you claim to love the god of the bible, a hateful, arrogant, sexist, cruel being who can’t tolerate criticism. I would not want to live in the same neighborhood with such a creature!


The biblical god is a macho male warrior. Though he said “Thou shalt not kill,” he ordered death for all opposition, wholesale drowning and mass exterminations; punishes offspring to the fourth generation (Ex. 20:5); ordered pregnant women and children to be ripped up (Hos. 13:16); demands animal and human blood to appease his angry vanity; is partial to one race of people; judges women to be inferior to men; is a sadist who created a hell to torture unbelievers; created evil (Is. 45:7); discriminated against the handicapped (Lev. 21:18-23); ordered virgins to be kept as spoils of war (Num. 31:15-18, Deut. 21:11-14); spread dung on people’s faces (Mal. 2:3); sent bears to devour 42 children who teased a prophet (II Kings 2:23-24); punishes people with snakes, dogs, dragons, drunkenness, swords, arrows, axes, fire, famine, and infanticide; and said fathers should eat their sons (Ez. 5:10). Is that nice? Would you want to live next door to such a person?


And Jesus is a chip off the old block. He said, “I and my father are one,” and he upheld “every jot and tittle” of the Old Testament law. Mt. 5:18 He preached the same old judgment: vengeance and death, wrath and distress, hell and torture for all nonconformists. He believed in demons, angels and spirits. He never denounced the subjugation of slaves or women. Women were excluded as disciples and as guests at his heavenly table. Except for hell he introduced nothing new to ethics or philosophy. He was disrespectful of his mother and brothers; he said we should hate our parents and desert our families. Mt. 10:35-36, Lk. 14:26 (So much for “Christian family life.”) He denounced anger, but was often angry himself. Mt. 5:22, Mk. 3:5 He called people “fools” (Mt. 23:17,19), “serpents,” and “white sepulchers,” though he warned that such language puts you in danger of hellfire. Mt. 5:22 He said “Think not that I am come to send peace on earth. I came not to send peace, but a sword." Mt. 10:34 (So much for “Peace on Earth.”) He irrationally cursed and withered a fig tree for being barren out of season. Mt. 21:19 He mandated burning unbelievers. Jn. 15:6 (The Church has complied with relish.) He stole a horse. Lk. 19:30-33 He told people to cut off hands, feet, eyes and sexual organs. Mt. 5:29-30, 19:12 You want me to accept Jesus, but I think I’ll pick my own friend, thank you.


One of Jesus’s many contradictions was saying good works should be seen, and not seen. Mt. 5:16, 6:1-4 One of his mistakes was saying that the mustard plant has the smallest seed. Mt. 13:31-32 The writers of Matthew and Luke could not even get his genealogy straight, contradicting the Old Testament, and giving Jesus two discrepant lines through Joseph, his non-father!


I also find Christianity to be morally repugnant. The concepts of original sin, depravity, substitutionary forgiveness, intolerance, eternal punishment, and humble worship are all beneath the dignity of intelligent human beings and conflict with the values of kindness and reason. They are barbaric ideas for primitive cultures cowering in fear and ignorance.


Finally, Christianity is harmful. More people have been killed in the name of a god than for any other reason. The Church has a shameful, bloody history of Crusades, Inquisitions, witch-burnings, heresy trials, American colonial intolerance, disrespect of indigenous traditions (such as American Indians), support of slavery, and oppression of women. Modern “fruits” of religion include the Jonestown massacre, the callous fraud of “faith healers,” recent wars and ethnic cleansing, and fighting in Northern Ireland. Religion also poses a danger to mental health, damaging self-respect, personal responsibility, and clarity of thought.


Do you see why I do not respect the biblical message? It is an insulting bag of nonsense. You have every right to torment yourself with such insanity — but leave me out of it. I have better things to do with my life.

481 comments:

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boomSLANG said...

iam_sweet said: "2000 years ago, the majority believed the earth was "flat", but the Bible said that it was 'round' (like a sphere)."

Verse please...please provide the exact verse referencing those exact words. Here's what I found with minimal investigating:

Isaiah 11:12
" And he shall set up an ensign for the nations, and shall assemble the outcasts of Israel, and gather together the dispersed of Judah from the FOUR CORNERS OF THE EARTH." (KJV)

Job 38:13
"That it might take hold of the ENDS OF THE EARTH, that the wicked might be shaken out of it?" (KJV)

"He set the earth on its foundations; it can NEVER BE MOVED." (From the NIV Bible, Psalm 104:5)

"He shakes the earth from its place and makes its PILLARS TREMBLE." (From the NIV Bible, Job 9:6)

"He sits enthroned above the *circle of the earth, and its people are like grasshoppers. He stretches out the heavens like a canopy, and spreads them out like a tent to live in." (From the NIV Bible, Isaiah 40:22)

(*not "sphere"; not "round"..."circle")


iam_sweet: "As to Demon Voices:
A book, 'Evidence of Satan in the Modern World', tells of many factual accounts, not only of demon assaults, but also of angry conversations between attempting exorcists and the wicked spirits."

Yes, there's gaggles of factual accounts of schizephrenia. And yes, the people are convinced of their experiences, but there's effective drugs for that.

iam_sweet: "I found one woman who was led by the “voices” to kill her little girl by drowning her in a bath tub."

In South Carolina, Susan Smith drowned her two boys by buckling their seatbelts and pushing the car into a lake. Ironically, she did it because she heard "God's voice" tell her to do it. Do you condone this?...since it's supposedly "saving" them from "the demons"? ' Didn't think so. Some people are just mentally ill, it's got NOTHING to do with "spirits". You can let go of your blankie.

Jerry said...

Thanks for making my point!

J. C. Samuelson said...

"...but the Bible said that it was "round" (like a sphere)."

See here, here, and here. The last is a discussion of the Flat Earth Theory throughout history.

"A book, "Evidence of Satan in the Modern World", tells of many factual accounts..."

By a Catholic priest in 1959, who presupposed the existence of demons and evil spirits. Don't think he might've had just a smidgeon of bias, do you?

Hearing voices, alleged spirit possessions, and so on are all part and parcel of the Christian tradition. Oddly, they're also part and parcel of the DSM-IV.

If I were to apply Occam's Razor, I wonder which would be more likely; that the individuals in question were suffering from mental illness, or that actual demon possession was occurring?

How's it coming with those biblical contradictions, sweet?

iam_sweet said...

In the eighth century B.C.E., when the prevailing view was that the earth was flat, centuries before Greek philosophers theorized that the earth likely was spherical, and thousands of years before humans saw the earth as a globe from space, the Hebrew prophet Isaiah stated with remarkable simplicity: “There is One who is dwelling above the circle of the earth.” (Isaiah 40:22) The Hebrew word chugh, here translated “circle,” may also be rendered “sphere.” Other Bible translations read, “the globe of the earth” (Douay Version) and “the round earth.”—Moffatt.

.:webmaster:. said...

How does one sit above a ball?

The circle you're speaking of is still a flat earth. It was thought the earth was shaped like a coin, with oceans surrounding the land, and anyone who who dared sail to the end of the earth would fall off into an abyss or into the mouth of some monster.

God supposedly sat enthroned above the the circle of the earth, above an imaginary "firmament" which supposedly held back the waters above the firmament — hence the blue color of the sky.

Modern Bible versions have decided to go with sphere in their translations because we all now realize that the earth is a ball floating in space.

iam_sweet said...

From iam_sweet
The webmaster stated:
Modern Bible versions have decided to go with sphere in their translations because we all now realize that the earth is a ball floating in space."

Notice what was posted:
"The Hebrew word chugh, here translated “circle,” may also be rendered “sphere.” Other Bible translations read, “the globe of the earth” (Douay Version)"

The book of Isaiah was first written in Hebrew. That particular word in Hebrew "chugh" could have been translated into the English language by the word "globe", as was done by the Douay Version of the Bible, which was translated around the year 1610.

The conclusion is that the original Hebrew text by Isaiah is as correct today as it was when he first wrote it.

One writer, commenting on the Dead Sea Scrool's of Isaiah had this to say, "This scroll and an additional copy of parts of Isaiah found near the Dead Sea “proved to be word for word identical with our standard Hebrew Bible in more than 95% of the text. The 5% of variation consisted chiefly of obvious slips of the pen and variations in spelling.”

Therefore, when reading the Hebrew Scriptures today, you can be confident that your Bible is based upon a Hebrew text that accurately conveys the thoughts of God’s inspired penmen. Thousands of years of painstaking professional copying has assured what God long ago foretold: “The green grass has dried up, the blossom has withered; but as for the word of our God, it will last to time indefinite.”—Isa. 40:8.

It is not my desire to quibble over words. If you have, what appears to be a contradiction, I will respond.

boomSLANG said...

iam_sweet said: "Notice what was posted: "The Hebrew word chugh, here translated 'circle', may also be rendered 'sphere'. Other Bible translations read, 'the globe of the earth' (Douay Version)"

Yack, yack, yack...who the f%ck said it's "rendered sphere" ????? WHO, iam????? WHO, WHO, WHO, WHO WHO???? Provide the reference, please. Provide the lexicon, please.

iam_sweet, you have thoroughly bludgeoned us with your "interpretation" weasle-wording. Your f%cking "God" is "perfect", right? Yes? Well, a "perfect" being would know the difference between a f%cking "sphere" and "circle"...do you under-f%cking-stand? Your "omniscient" biblegod is presumably leaving a legacy, right?---GOD'S "word"; GOD'S wishes; GOD'S desires for ALL of humanity..... for-f%cking-EVER!!!! It seems a "perfect" being wouldn't envision "His" creation---THOUSANDS of years later---bickering over such trival crap. A perfect "God" would not leave such ambiguity in his "WORD". So stop your bullshit weasle-wording. You are blantantly carving the corners off the square to make it fit in the round hole. You are NOT convincing ANYONE but yourself. You are wasting your time here. Your argument, like David Poole's, like Jaybird's, like CC's, like all of the other "defenders of the Christian Faith" amounts to "I believe". That's it!!!! Great...very lovely...now go "believe" somehwere else. Take your apologetic ass OUT OF HERE!!!!!


"Oooo...Atheists are angry!"

Shove yourself up your ass, 'k?.

Passerby said...

iam_sweet said, "Being invisible, it would be very, very simple for Satan to move the snake's mouth and make it appear that the snake was talking."


This response is so absurd and ludicrous it makes you wonder about the state of iam_sweet's mind. Seriously folks, how do you argue with somebody as brainwashed and delusional as this person? In this day and age, there are adults who believe the characters in fables and mythology are true. This person is clearly not playing with a full deck. I can only hope iam_sweet breaks away from the mind virus (meme) called Chrisitianity---he/she is clearly in denial.

Cheers

.:webmaster:. said...

Here you go I_am_sweet: Flat Earth.

Iam, do you know what year Copernicus presented his theories on how the solor system worked?

Regardless, please look at that link. And then expain how someone sits "ABOVE" the earth. Which direction would that be, exactly. Since there is no up or down in space, I'd just like to know where the hell above might be.

Now we're going to find out that "above" could be translated "around."

J. C. Samuelson said...

"If you have, what appears to be a contradiction, I will respond."

Still haven't answered the problem between the passages concerning God, love, glory and judgment. Still haven't answered the problem concerning animals on the Ark that weren't indigenous to the Middle East. Still haven't addressed any more of the contradictions WM pointed you to, yet you continue to post and bring up new issues.

Sweet is looking more like a troll every minute.

Cnote said...

Dave8 and the other eloquent posters: very well done you have shown incredible patience, and you are changing the world. I know that these discussions become aggravating but if you are able to open just one person's mind, you have changed the world. This is more than necessary because the believers are outbreeding us and we are losing wisdom as a species. Argh.

Dave8 said...

Cnote, I agree, just opening one mind will benefit all the people that interact with that person, and that's a lot of people.

The regular extians do make an extraordinary effort to provide information to those who can't seem to see another valid point of view - and in a most eloquent way.

I am proud to be part of such a crew of open minded thinkers and professionals. Thanks for the kindness, Cheers.

Gooneybird said...

I've only read about half way down this thread and am new to this site. Just a few comments...there are a lot of words in this thread. The word "god" comes up a lot. This little word, this handle, seems to be a frequently used one. I'm not sure what it's supposed to represent. Do the people that refer to themselves as christians here have any idea as to exactly what god is? No? Well, then what is it we are talking about? A word should have some meaning, shouldn't it? Yeah, I know...you might say god is the creator. That doesn't really get to what the creator is. Albert Hoffmann was the creator/inventor of LSD, but that doesn't really tell me anything about the nature of what Albert Hoffmann is.

OK, we might define god as that which is uncreated, that without beginning and that without end. My general chemistry text states the 1st law of thermodynamics as "energy is neither created nor destroyed, only interconverted." So, then we can define god as the infinite (perhaps) sea of energy; god is all. All is god. This definition of god obviously is not what christians have in mind. And before you say, "Oh, you have faith in the 1st Law!" Well, no, if it were shown somehow that energy could be extracted from nothing, I would reconsider the validity of the 1st law. It seems reasonable, though. Something can't come from nothing. Yes, I'll agree. Something (energy/matter) cannot come from from nothing (nonenergy/nonmatter).

As far as the universe being intelligent, I'll agree. Permeated with intelligence. It's just that we need to define intelligence. It's not such a simple word. Its definition requires expansion. A broad definition of intelligence might be "the ability to sense/perceive and respond to something; awareness" Would we agree? Consider two electrically charged particles, a postively and negatively charge particle. Somehow, through space, the positive particle "senses" the negative particle is nearby, and vice versa. They are attracted; and like charges repel. This is a kind of intelligence in the broadest sense of the word. Scientists--before you simply say, "it's just the electrostatic force," know that nobody knows what a force is...that is, nobody knows how or what it is that imparts that force...or said differently, nobody knows what it is that communicates thru space to the let the proton know that the electron is nearby. Forces are constructs that explain an observable effect. So, the concept of forces is not incongruent with the definition of intelligence that I have used. It can be said that there is nothing but intelligence or consciousness. That's basically true, I think, but it has nothing to do with any personal "god." It's just that if there is no underlying foundation of intelligence of which we are one with we could not be "the universe become aware of itself." That is, if we are indeed intelligent, our intelligence is based upon, enmeshed in, and one with a fundamental "intelligence" in the broadest sense of the word.

Cheerz,

Gooneybird

*Onara*

Bentley said...

The word g-o-d to most people comes to mean (surrogate father)their real ultimate father, since most biological fathers seem to be wanning in their expression of love towards their children, a surragate heavenly father seems an appropriate substitute or supplying one with a missing need.

I would be willing to bet that you've heard the expression "God Loves You" a thousand times more than from your biological father directly from him?

Ever noticed most all churches have on their marquee "God Loves You!"? But they never have "Your Biological Father Loves You!"?

The imaginary God will always love you, the god envisioned by so many people whom are missing real genuine love from their own biological fathers.

realitygeezer said...

Wow!
It doesnt matter who you are, there have been more human deaths on this planet caused by both religion and tobacco than of ALL other causes combined, mostly from ignorance of reality. Yet, the majority of humans still follow the same crooked path. I do not see any intelligence displayed there!

fjell_strom said...

I am posting for the first time.

I discovered this site just tonight, after coming home from work. I wasted my entire Friday night. The whole town went its merry way, drinking and the like, right outside my window, as I simply read and read until I finally reached the bottom.

Gentlemen, and Ladies, and...everyone...

I am honestly stunned and moved.

I so so respectfully take my hat off to the eloquence and quite obvious respect for reason which is here displayed like jeweled scepters by the likes of (but by no means exclusive to) dave8, webmaster, jim arvo, boomslang (though fiery at times), dano, cdmon, and Melissa!!!

Please, I implore each and every one of you to feel good tonight! Your techniques, your patience, your data, vocabularies, wisdom, humor, all of it… I am truly and utterly inspired. I, like some here, am an eX-Christian, and I can hardly stomach now the awful attempts at some of the Christians who post here. How can the honest attempts of Jim Arvo to floor a meaningful, non-visceral debate go un-lauded by every single human being who visits this site?

I am speechless. Is there not one well-informed, open-minded Christian who will go idea for idea here without getting irrational, insulting, dogmatic, desperate, or just plain weird? I can’t believe it. I can’t believe that absolutely every one of them eventually takes some “unforeseeable” argumentative exit ramp… It is truly disheartening.

And it’s awful how so many of the Xtians think atheists are out to destroy God. That we hate God. That we are only disobedient children who simply would do anything to not have to obey God’s commands and the like… when that could not be further from the truth. I suspect that, like me, many of you wish dearly that God, or something like God, were real. Time and time again, the Christians don’t seem to understand or want to understand that it is not our desire for God not to exist that fuels our atheist convictions, it simply is that we have not encountered evidence which speaks for God’s existence. Nothing more, nothing less. And they seem to miss this time and time again, and instead hammer on some notion that we are willingly rejecting God out of spite. Ridiculous, my friends. Ridiculous. But then, so much of this ”debate” with Christians is.

I would like to encourage everyone, if you haven’t already, to watch the Atheist Tapes by Jonathan Miller featured on Google Video, as well as his three part series, Atheism: A rough history of disbelief from which the Atheism tapes stem. My personal fav is the one with Nobel-winning physicist Steven Weinberg.

Besides that, I would like to post below something I simply thought up this evening and felt I had to write in a sort of brain-storming, shoot-from-the-hip style. It may all be elementary or simply not relevant to you, but I thought I’d toss it in. Not scientific, but:

It would seem that the very vulnerable position of man in his original/natural surroundings is the very thing which precipitates his need for God. Therefore, if a man is removed from those surroundings and placed instead in a less-threatening and, as it were, more comforting environment, his need of the God figure is diminished. This inverse relationship goes a long way in explaining the adage: there are no atheists in fox holes. If belief in God is rooted in man’s transient, variable, and malleable degree of security and comfort, what can we expect in the future should man finally be able to alleviate himself and all his brothers from all major worldly suffering? In short, the notion of God itself is quite equal to human suffering. It is in fact self-perpetuating. Ultimately, spiritual leaders must be very careful not to undermine their followers’ feelings of helplessness. This is why, of course, Christians must be taught that all humanity has been broken since the time of Eve and that there is absolutely nothing they can ever do to repair that brokenness. Their wounds must be pointed out to them – rarely is a person actually born feeling this deficiency, it is something which must be taught and which spreads virus-like from the infected, for you cannot have a need for God unless a person first believes in his own emptiness and transgressions for which, although he did not commit, he is responsible – so that even if they wind up living lives of untethered excess in first world nations, they will not catch sight of the fact that their carnal requirements are very much met and thus realize they are no longer in need of an unquantifiable, invisible top-down supplier. God is necessary for the development of man throughout history, but wanes very seriously the moment man gains a serious foothold over his surroundings, after which, like the child who must eventually come to understand that his biological parents are not the all-powerful, infallible beings he once mistook them for, man must also shoulder the tough-as-nails responsibility that the shearing off of God exposes: that man’s wellbeing and survival are guaranteed by nothing (as they actually never were), and are of absolutely no concern to nature or the universe or indeed anything beyond the six billion other tragically-destined beings who are caught in the same inescapable predicament.

Bentley said...

I agree, the more trajedy and death and suffering we face, this validates more the need for a belief in a God. That's why we are so ready and willing to go off into a war, so we can call on our God to help us from ourselves.

A God that's ready and willing to save us, whenever we put ourselves into a position that we should have never been in, in the first place.

God, man's invention to save him from himself, yet he's willing to kill all of humanity to prove that his imaginary God really exists.

Man is the eccentual fool on this planet! Great observation, BTW!

Jim Arvo said...

Hello fjell_strom,

First, I thank you for the kind words. I actually think a few of my responses above were more pointed than they needed to be, but I sincerely appreciate your comments nonetheless.

I too feel that there is definitely some truth to your observation about fear precipitating a belief in invisible protectors, but I also strongly suspect that it goes much deeper than that. I say that because the notion of invisible deities all over the world, and throughout recorded history, have some common attributes. This suggests that the very idea of a deity draws upon some of the mental machinery that we all share as humans--that is, the idea does not come out of the blue, just to make us feel safer, but rather from common patterns of thinking and interacting that are common to virtually all humans. For example, nearly every deity invented by the human mind is intimately concerned with human affairs, and is privy to all sorts of sensitive information about us. They also share human foibles and emotions, and can be "bribed" by certain behaviors such as offerings or displays of homage and loyalty. They are all capable of intervening in human affairs, but by oddly unspecified means. The list is actually quite lengthy. These attributes seem to be reflections of our "social" selves; that is, they are rooted in the same mental machinery that make us highly social animals who are intrinsically concerned with the behaviors and intentions of others. Couple this with our lengthy childhood and total dependence upon parental figures for protection, and it's much easier to see where the notion of a fatherly (or motherly) figure who knows all might have come from.

But then, those are only the seeds. Once the idea gets started, countless believers embellish the picture of their invisible protector, invent a history for him/her, declare certain doctrines to be set down by this deity, and often show great hostility toward those who do not hold the same beliefs. These embellishments do indeed spread like a virus; of course, some are more effective at spreading than others. The Christian virus is quite well adapted and is likely to survive into the foreseeable future to some degree, in my opinion. It has built-in defense mechanisms (e.g. maintaining a somewhat closed community that does not welcome dissenting views), as well as explicit mechanisms for spreading (e.g. proselytizing, "witnessing", indoctrinating young children, and in some cases having many children).

Anyway, I think the more we learn about how the mind works, and how it came to be this way, the more light it sheds on one of the most widespread and puzzling behaviors of man: religion. I think the veil is finally starting to be lifted, and it's possible that this will be instrumental in relegating all religions to the status of quaint superstition, but I don't expect to see this happen in my lifetime. I like to think that I'm doing my small part to push in the right direction, however.

Warnepiece said...

This has got to be one of the best, most interesting, and informative websites I have found. There are a lot of well developed and thought provoking ideas being submitted by several ex-xian writers. My own de-conversion began many years ago but received a boost when I read this web page by Craig Duckett:
http://www.control-z.com/pgs/pers_state1.html. The article is lengthy but well worth the time it takes to read it. As I have been reading many of the xian postings above, they use the word “sin” over and over again. I have to wonder: Whose idea was sin? What did WE do that is considered a sin against some omnipotent being (God)? Is it our mere existence? If the xian bible is any guide, since Adam made God angry, then everyone is guilty from that point forward and that guilt is punishable by death, no exceptions. Adam supposedly ate fruit Eve gave him from a garden God put in their midst and then pointedly told them not to eat from it, thereby advertising there was something there that they could not be a part of, with no good reason for avoiding it. (Why put it there then? How hard would it have been to locate it somewhere where Adam and Eve couldn’t even find it? God didn’t realize they would stumble across it?) And then a serpent, you know, one of those creatures God created (Again, He didn’t see this coming? Who is superior, God or Satan?), talks…TALKS…(a serpent is given the ability to converse!!!)... Eve into taking fruit from that tree. It seems stupid to me that an omnipotent, omnipresent God would create the whole Genesis scenario and then not know what was going to happen. And when it did, every future generation was condemned for it and God finds this “good”. Later on he comes in human form (Jesus, but it is still God), and allows himself to be killed in order to change a rule that he created because someone didn’t mind him about 4 thousand years previously and he didn’t know it was going to happen. Now, if we just believe in him for dying and coming back from the dead we can sin all we want (but we’ll supposedly not want to sin much anymore) and when we die, we’ll spiritually go to heaven and be with him forever. And the ONLY thing that makes this information available is the Bible, which was supposedly inspirationally written by that very same God! How convenient! If, as some biblical apologists insist, the story of Adam and Eve is a parable, then is the original sin just a parable? We aren’t actually guilty of anything? The whole sin concept is based on this story. If it isn’t true, then humankind being guilty of sin by proxy isn’t true either.
How can bible apologist read the bible from cover to cover, or just the first few pages of Genesis, and still believe it is inerrant? Not blind faith…blind gullibility!

fjell_strom said...

I agree, Jim, wholeheartedly, in the matter of research into the brain and the 'mind' eventually revealing the origin of “God”. I, too, hope that these investigations and their results will do something to shift the tight grip religion has on humanity in enormous numbers.

Disheartening is, however, that we see so many reject scientific results and suggestions – even the data itself – simply because it does not jive with their beliefs. There might someday very well be some form of a “war on science”. Hopefully the fact that people are living lives steeped in technology which was built upon the science they are fighting will go at least some way to keeping things in check.

Lastly, could anyone recommend other pages on this site where a good discussion or debate is taking place? Or in fact, on other sites? I much prefer things as calm and rational and helpful as possible, not word trickery, ad hominem attacks, or personal thrashings, so I’m looking for a place where that is as close to what’s happening as possible.

I wish everyone who appreciates the same the absolute best of luck!!!

fjell

.:webmaster:. said...

fjell,

You might try joining the open forums. Click here. You must first register (it's free), then you can post there.

Warnepiece said...

Webmaster Dave, on 4/21/06 in a posting by Shay706, she threatened to have biblegod create an eclispe right over your house on May 11, 2006. I'm curious, was she able to get biblegod to bend the laws of the universe for her convenience on that date in order to show you who's "boss" on this planet? If not, what does she think that says about her biblegod?

.:webmaster:. said...

There was no eclipse over my house on that date, nor as far as I know, anywhere else.

I would guess that Shay706 simply found some excuse to justify the failure: lack of faith, inapproriate request to deity, not God's will, etc.

Religious fervor is silly at best and dangerous at worst.

Anonymous said...

According to naturalism, the universe has no purpose and no interest whether or not there is life in it. Logically, we should not be here. In fact, modification of laws of physics almost always results in universes that don't even contain matter! Our presence in the universe suggests that we are not here by accident. In fact, the atheist must address the question of *why there is anything at all*. Why should there be a universe instead of nothing?

Bentley said...

Absolute proof there is no God.

If God was around before you where born, how come you never talked to a God until after you were born?

Do you think your father or mother had Jesus and your eternal salvation on their minds at the exact moment of insemination (your fathers orgasm) into your mother?

The only place a God or Jesus exists is in your mind, you're just repeating things you've heard other monkeys repeat.

Now, I can prove to you that God and Jesus only exists in the conscious living brain, this also includes all man made envisioned entities.

1. God and Jesus disappear when you are asleep. (Where do they go?)

2. God and Jesus disappear when you are unconscious or in a coma. (Where do they go?)

3. Thoughts of God and Jesus disappear when you're under anesthesia, during surgery. (Where do they go?)

4. All Gods and saviors disappear when the mind is unconscious.

5. Therefore, all Gods and saviors and man's inspired entities disappear, when the mind is dead.

6. All the things that you've been told to believe, will quickly disappear the exact moment of death.

You might as well learn it now, so get over with talking to yourself, and calling it from a God, its just your mind repeating just what you like for yourself to hear.

Anonymous said...

Atheists commonly claim that humans invented God to satisfy some of his fear of death, therefore, wishing God into existence. According to the theory, man realized his limitations and fears and projected an image of God to calm these fears. In short, God is what man wishes to be - a kind of super-man. This model matches the gods of the pagan religions quite well, and possibly explains the origins of these religions.

However, if people were to have invented the God of Christianity, it is unlikely that it would be the demanding God of the Bible. The God of the Bible is described as holy1 - without sin and without the ability to commit sin.2 The holiness of God is described as being above anything that humans can attain, such that no human can stand before Him as holy.3 Behaving more morally upright than most other people is not sufficient to escape the punishment of the God of the Bible.4

In nearly all religions, salvation is attained through human effort. Only in Christianity does salvation come solely as a gift from God5 - it cannot be earned through human effort.6 Clearly, in doctrines such as the nature of God and the way of salvation, there is very little common ground between Christianity and the religions of the world.

The God of Christianity also differs from the gods of the world's religions in terms of His nature and existence. Most of the religions of the world describe their god as existing within the universe. In many cases, these gods even have parents. Both of these attributes are logically inconsistent with the reality of our universe. Only a God who is transcendent to both space and time, like the God of the Bible, is logically possible.

Jim Arvo said...

Anonymous,

Please take your idiotic straw-man arguments somewhere else. Your cut-and-past drivel is a litany of fallacies, unsupported assertions, and pedantic nonsense. You ramble on about how nothing in science is certain, apparently unaware of how painfully obvious that is. OF COURSE everything in science is provisional, because it's perpetually SELF-CORRECTING. If new data comes along that contradicts or casts doubt on previous conclusions, then guess what; those conclusions are tossed out or modified. Similarly, all of your assertions about what "atheists" believe are classic fundy claptrap. You are the one building straw men, then attempting to knock them down. If you want to address the REAL issue, then produce some concrete EVIDENCE (not "proof") for the existence of your invisible deity. To make it simple, pick ONE attribute that you claim is possessed by ONE supernatural entity, and produce some concrete evidence for it. Once you do that, we can discuss it if you wish. But please, spare us the cut-and-paste nonsense.

Warnepiece said...

Anonymous, you have got to be kidding! “Since god created the universe…” Says who??? What proof do you have? Don’t come on this website, make some bald statement and then just expect us to all go “Oh yeah, right. That’s common knowledge…” If you have real evidence, present it. Don’t point to some fable-filled book and say “…because the bible says right here…” I’m SURE you’ve surveyed the world’s religions and come to the conclusion that the biblical god is the most consistent regarding the reality of the universe, because you’re pre-supposed that the biblical god is the One True God. No wonder none of the other gods, or no god, had a chance to convince you. “Even as a skeptic, you can't ignore what the Bible says about God and claim to disprove the existence of the God of the Bible”. Why not? Why can’t we ignore it? Just because you believe it doesn’t mean it is real. How does quoting out of a book prove there is a god? And then you make the ridiculous statement that “the purpose of the universe is not to prevent evil, but to allow humans to make a choice between good and evil.” So, if your god is the creator, didn’t he create that evil we get to pick and choose from? Homer Simpson said it best…”Lousy God!”

Anonymous said...

If you really know what is happening in India and the hate spread by neoconverts and missionaries, you will be in for a big surprise. They are even trying to copy elements of Hinduism in to their faith.

.:webmaster:. said...

Anony said: "In nearly all religions, salvation is attained through human effort. Only in Christianity does salvation come solely as a gift from God - it cannot be earned through human effort. Clearly, in doctrines such as the nature of God and the way of salvation, there is very little common ground between Christianity and the religions of the world."

Well, in that case, there is nothing I need to worry about! If "salvation" is solely a gift, then there is nothing I can do to obtain it. It is either given or not. I either have it or I don't.

When I was born, I didn't have to accept the free gift of life. I hit the cold air after growing in my mother's womb and sucked in a lungful of air. I was given the gift of life and I did nothing to obtain it.

If that's how it is with being born "again," then that is a gift indeed! However, if there is some requirement, like accepting the gift or repenting or believing or changing personal habits or attending church or anything else, then I am earning my salvation. No matter how small of a requirement there is on my receiving this so-called gift -- even the tiniest rule or regulation on obtaining it -- my efforts give me a hand in earning it.

And if I have to do something, anything at all, to earn this "salvation," then Christianity is no different than all the other religions.

boomSLANG said...

Like clockwork, the anonymous fundamentalists flock in here and post, but are either too scared, lazy, or unimaginative to think up and use an alias.

Okay, cut-n-paste Fundonymous said:

"Only a God who is transcendent to both space and time, like the God of the Bible, is logically possible."

On the contrary---a "being" that is both omniscient and omnipotent is "logically" IMpossible. If your "God" has a "plan" for mankind and knows the future(omniscience), then said god cannot change the sequence of events leading to the future, or else it was never a "plan" in the first place. If said God is powerless to change what was "planned", then said God is NOT omnipotent. If said God changes it's mind, then it never knew the future. Also, if biblegod was "omnibenevolent" and "all loving", then there wouldn't be a need for a "hell". If receiving God's love has "strings attached", then God isn't "omnibenevolent". If God punishes infinitely for finite/temporal "crimes" such as being skeptical---mind you, the SAME skepicism that ALL Christians use to deduce every OTHER god is non-existant---then God is not "just".

As we see, contradictions abound, so no, the existance of the God of the Holy Bible is is NOT "logically possible".

Fundonymous: "Most of the religions of the world describe their god as existing within the universe."

Jesus: "I and my Father are one".

I just went over this recently. If Jesus and God are "one", and Jesus existed in this natural universe, then God is/was OF the universe. Simple math.

The deity of the Christian Bible is non-existant. It's man-made mythology, like every other deity from ancient history.

Good day.

Gooneybird said...

Anon: "According to naturalism, the universe has no purpose and no interest whether or not there is life in it."

What purpose could there possibly be? To please god? Is that a purpose? If that's what you call a purpose, then what a silly little universe we live in! PLEASE ME, FOR I REQUIRE PLEASING!
Seriously, in your dualistic thinking, you are separating yourself from the universe, as if you weren't totally enmeshed in and one with it. We are the universe become aware of itself, pure and simple. This is an absolute truth.^0^ The universe is only interested in if there is life in it to the extent that we (and all beings) are interested in this.

Anon: "Logically, we should not be here."

How is that logical? We are here. That is all. Accept it and move on.

Anon: "In fact, modification of laws of physics almost always results in universes that don't even contain matter!"

Well, perhaps the laws of physics are as they should be and don't require "modification." Is it just possible that the equations describing phenonemon are the way they are precisely because they accurately reflect the reality they attempt to describe? What are you talking about with this "modification" nonsense?

Anon: "Our presence in the universe suggests that we are not here by accident."

It's no accident. Ooops! Again, we're here. That is all. Move on.

Anon: "In fact, the atheist must address the question of *why there is anything at all*. Why should there be a universe instead of nothing?"

No. You are VERY confused. The atheist doesn't have to answer this question any more than the christian person has to answer "why should god exist at all?" You'll say god is uncreated and eternal. I'll say energy is uncreated and eternal. 1st law of thermodynamics: energy is neither created or destroyed, only interconverted...implies energy is uncreated and eternal. If you wanna call the infinite sea of uncreated energy god, then I'm with ya. If you wanna talk about god something apart from energy/matter/everything, I'll ask you what that thing is. Does it look like the smell of one hand clapping? Or does it resemble the sound of your eyes before you were born?

Anonymous said...

It is really sad to see these comments that are so disrespectful to GOD. He sent his son to die on the cross for our sins and this is how you repay him. Some say they are better than God, others call him names. I am not here to convince anyone, but when the rapture takes place, that will be the time that you realize all that you said was wrong. Your comments will be replaying in your mind for eternity while your soul finds no rest.

.:webmaster:. said...

Yes, yes, anony.

Threats of hell and damnation.

You're god really can't take disbelief, can he. Really pisses him off.

What a loser god.

Gooneybird said...

I'll entertain you as if you were for real.

"He sent his son to die on the cross for our sins and this is how you repay him."

HE sent HIS SON?

"I and my Father are one."

Explain to me how something that is unified is two. Your word "sent" indicates that there are two. Of course, we all know there are three, but really just one. Pretty confusing.

"Your comments will be replaying in your mind for eternity while your soul finds no rest."

Will you finally feel some satisfaction then?

EMP said...

Wow-- all you skeptics have convinced me! Any religion that is worth spending so many shrill words attacking so bitterly has got to be worth looking into! Nobody has ever spent this much time and energy attacking something that was an obvious and transparent lie. You all are willing to spend an incredible amount of time harping on this Jesus thing, so there must be something to it.

Not persuaded? Then one question-- if you really "have better things to do with your life," why aren't you doing them instead of Bible-bashing? Or is it that you somehow recognize deep down that Christianity is the most important thing, even to attack? (There must be some reason you're not attacking the abuses in Islam, Hinduism, or Zoroastrianism, for instance.)

Your shrillness gives you away, you see. Here's one to ponder: Could a non-existent God really get so many people mad at Him?

Astreja said...

EMP: "There must be some reason you're not attacking the abuses in Islam, Hinduism, or Zoroastrianism..."

Yes there is, and thanks for asking. I see the occasional hijab-wearing Muslima in the mall, but the extent of our conversation is a smile or a polite nod. I sometimes buy spices at an Indian market, and enjoy looking at the brightly painted statues of Hanuman and Shiva and Krishna and Saraswati. And the only follower of Ahura Mazda that I've ever knowingly been in the same room with was Freddy Mercury of Queen (January 1977, Montreal Forum).

How...ever...

I have had evangelical Christians come onto my property, ring my doorbell, and insist that they know some magical secret truth about Life, the Universe and Everything. And they generally try a Pascal's Wager-type parting shot when I tell them that I'm not interested.

A neighbour's son has been harassed and ostracized at his junior high school because he doesn't belong to the prayer club.

My own daughter has been called a "demon child" by Christian classmates.

And evangelicals are constantly trying to force their version of morality upon the rest of society.

I'm indifferent as to what you believe in private. I care passionately about what you and other believers do to me and my neighbours. If you want respect, start practicing it.

.:webmaster:. said...

EMP, you sound like a parrot. We've heard that one before:

Here's my response: CLICK HERE

Anonymous said...

EMP: "Wow-- all you skeptics have convinced me! Any religion that is worth spending so many shrill words attacking so bitterly has got to be worth looking into!"

Yep, check in to all of the over 10,000 christian denominations, and over 3,492 gods that have been identified throughout recorded history. Let us know what you find, after you "look" into the matter.

EMP: "Nobody has ever spent this much time and energy attacking something that was an obvious and transparent lie."

Its unfortunate that society (at least the more intelligent side), has to defend themselves from the onslaught of lies, pushed by insecure individuals who need to find some comfort in their miserable lives. Personally, I defend myself from any lie, so... don't consider your lie to be somehow more worthy of inspection... As well, the more people that defend themselves from a "lie", doesn't make your "lie" somehow more valuable.

If "any" reaction, to your lie, supports your belief, then... the lie isn't as important to you, than the "reaction"... thus, you are just craving attention. Do you get attention by stepping into someone elses' virtual domain, and lying... sure, but most people realize that you are just an insecure liar looking for attention.

Your life is defined by a lie you were told by someone else, and you measure your lie, by how many other people say its a lie... basically, your entire life, and belief system, is based on what other people have told you. Here's a novel idea, grow up, and become more intellectually independent.

EMP: "You all are willing to spend an incredible amount of time harping on this Jesus thing, so there must be something to it."

If you kept your lie to yourself, then I personally wouldn't care what you thought. Unfortunately, your lie, seems to be used by clergy to make money, lie peddling, and in order to perpetuate the lie campaign, those who profit from lying, attempt to make laws that will keep them employed. Using, such excuses like... hey, without this "religion" lie, the country would go morally bankrupt... which is a lie, used to support another lie.

EMP: "Not persuaded? Then one question-- if you really "have better things to do with your life," why aren't you doing them instead of Bible-bashing?"

Because in less than five minutes, I can call you a liar, and publish it to the world online.

EMP: "Or is it that you somehow recognize deep down that Christianity is the most important thing, even to attack?"

There we go with the ego, and wanting to be considered the most valuable "lie".

Yeah, throw a chunk of coal in a lake, and admire the ripples. The greater the wake/ripples produced the more likely your coal is to be a diamond, right.

EMP: "(There must be some reason you're not attacking the abuses in Islam, Hinduism, or Zoroastrianism, for instance.)

Actually, if you weren't so illiterate, or myopic, you'd read a few articles and see a pattern form. You know, that when anyone presents an invisible solution to a physical problem they are challenged to produce evidence.

EMP: "Your shrillness gives you away, you see. Here's one to ponder: Could a non-existent God really get so many people mad at Him?"

No, but a mortal whiner, proposing lies will. Nice to meet you.

boomSLANG said...

EMP Wow-- all you skeptics have convinced me! Any religion that is worth spending so many shrill words attacking so bitterly has got to be worth looking into!

Wow!...it's always amusing to see a skeptic calling others "skeptics". Emp--you are a skeptic too! Yes, YOU are skeptical of Osiris, Toth, Buddha, Allah, and literally, THOUSANDS more "Gods". 'Silly skeptic, you!

EMP Nobody has ever spent this much time and energy attacking something that was an obvious and transparent lie.

Better yet, it begs the question of why would anyone CARE how much time the non-believer "wastes" doubting the existance of something, if the existance of said "thing" is so obviously "real"? Seriously, if someone started a website doubting the existance of "trees", honestly, who would waste time hanging out on that website defending the existance of trees? So really, I think just the fact that YOU are here, shows that there is doubt in your Jesus belief. Tisk tisk!

EMP Not persuaded? Then one question-- if you really "have better things to do with your life," why aren't you doing them instead of Bible-bashing?

Who said we have, or should have, "better things" to do with our lives? Who?...you? Hell, abolishing legendary thinking from the face of the earth is one of the most important things any of us will ever do in our lives. Furthermore, speaking of "bashing"--- the "God" in your holy hand-book does more "bashing", "dashing", and "smashing" than anyone I've ever heard of. His nickname should be "Bam Bam". Why don't you actually try reading you Holey Babble with an objective mind for a change, instead of "buffet" style.

EMP Your shrillness gives you away, you see. Here's one to ponder: Could a non-existent God really get so many people mad at Him?

Take 9/11 for second---are you "mad" at Allah? Seriously--are you "mad at Him"?...OR.... are you concerned that people living in the 21st century are killing people who disagree with their beliefs? Exactly, that's what I thought.

EMP said...

Hmm, I seem to have touched a chord. Too bad you folks can be so sensitive; we could have a lot of fun if you could take it as well as you can dish it out. But if I tried your kind of lines on you, you'd doubtless call me intolerant, small-minded and arrogant. Oh well.

So, if I read you correctly underneath all the argumentum ad hominem, (though there is almost nothing left of your "responses" once you take that out) your objection is that the message of Christianity is foolishness to you.

I agree. Did you know that the Bible says exactly the same thing about itself?

1 Corinthians 1:18 gives the conditions in which this is true; look it up if you're interested.

Just passing through. (Sorry to disappoint boomslang, but I found you by searching for something completely unrelated on Google, which I found elsewhere, so I doubt I'll be back. As to who said you have better things to do, your own original post did. I too have better things to do, and unlike some, shall now go do them. Peace.)

.:webmaster:. said...

EMP,

Did you ever stop to consider why Paul wrote that only those with darkened minds reject his gospel? Do you think it might have been because so many were rejecting his message?

All cult leaders say similar things. That's nothing new. Paul was an apologetic preacher, intent on making and keeping converts.

Anyway, the whole concept doesn't even make sense. If everyone is spiritually blind before coming to Christ, then how does anyone ever come to Christ? Weren't you blind before coming to Christ? How did you get your sight? Or are you still spiritually blind, but just believe anyway? Can a blind person choose to see? Does it work that way? You point your virtual finger at us, saying we are spiritually blind as if we could just somehow choose to believe. Can a person just insincerely choose to believe something nonsensical? Or is it more likely that a person is deceived into believing things that are nonsensical?

Anyway, since we are so sensitive, you are leaving in a huff, so I guess it's au revoir. Have a wonderful eternal life in a city paved with streets of gold while the bulk of your fellow humans shriek, scream and cry out in horrific torment, forever, in the eternal torture chamber of your loving heavenly father.

Sadistic punishment for lacking belief in a god is not enlightened justice.

J. C. Samuelson said...

EMP,

You complain about ad hominem attacks, yet your very first post reeked of sarcasm and condescension toward people you know little to nothing about. What did you expect with that kind of entrance?

You are not the first - nor very likely the last - Christian who will open up their dialogue with us by launching a broadsided attack against the character of the people here. As for touching a nerve, yes it does. It should. It was very poor manners. I suspect you wouldn't exactly extend a warm welcome either, had someone posted a similarly sarcastic and condescending comment on your own blog.

boomSLANG said...

Hmm, I seem to have touched a chord. Too bad you folks can be so sensitive; we could have a lot of fun if you could take it as well as you can dish it out.

You didn't strike a chord....you struck out, period. Yes, you, like most of the fundamentalists who stumble in here, have an argument that amounts to "I believe"...oh, and of course, toppped off with a few of the more common apologetic soundbites...i.e..you're mad at God..blah, blah, blah. Nothing new.

So, if I read you correctly underneath all the argumentum ad hominem, (though there is almost nothing left of your "responses" once you take that out)

You called us "skeptics"--I simply pointed out that you are a skeptic too. That's "ad hominem"?

your objection is that the message of Christianity is foolishness to you. Did you know that the Bible says exactly the same thing about itself?

1 Corinthians 1:18 gives the conditions in which this is true; look it up if you're interested.


WHAT "message"? Love Jesus.... or BURN? Uh, been there. BTW, did you know that referencing bilical scripture to us is as useless as a Muslim referencing the Holy Q'ran to you? News flash: It is.

As to who said you have better things to do, your own original post did.

That's funny, I looked for where I specifically said I have better things to do, and I don't see that post...?...? If I did say that, I stand corrected, as I'm not one to defend my oversights in perpetuity = )

Buh-bye, now.

EMP said...

Webmaster: If everyone is spiritually blind before coming to Christ, then how does anyone ever come to Christ? Weren't you blind before coming to Christ? How did you get your sight? Or are you still spiritually blind, but just believe anyway? Can a blind person choose to see? Does it work that way?

Wow--that is it exactly! I wouldn't have posted again but I'm impressed that you've gone directly to the heart of the matter with these questions. It is not a reductio ad absurdum as you seem to think, but a line of thought that can be made logically consistent by only one thing. When you know what that thing is, you'll know the answer.

(Hint: John 9.)

--Your friendly neighborhood skeptic: Just trying to get you to question your faith! ;-)

Anonymous said...

EMP(ty): "Hmm, I seem to have touched a chord."

Consider some people sensitive to lies, and many of us can look past you being a self-indulged liar, as long as you keep it to yourself.

EMP(ty): "Too bad you folks can be so sensitive;"

Lying isn't a trait I find appealing. Perhaps, you would get a better reception from little children whom don't have enough knowledge to know you are a liar. Oh, that's right, the strategy has been employed by religions for a few thousand years.

EMP(ty): "...we could have a lot of fun if you could take it as well as you can dish it out."

Sorry, most of us are not up to exchanging lies for entertainment. I enjoy exposing liars though, so, if you want to present something you call a universal "truth", then throw it out there.

If you want to compare and contrast lies with other lies, because you find that entertaining and it makes your life more valuable, may I suggest you find your way to a religious web site.

While there, you can witness the hypocrisy of liars calling other people liars.

EMP(ty): "But if I tried your kind of lines on you, you'd doubtless call me intolerant, small-minded and arrogant. Oh well."

If you tried the lines on many here, they would challenge you to support your comment(s). If you could not support your comment(s), you'd be called a liar in the most universal of senses.

Many here were forced as young children/adults to live a life of contradiction - living a lie/life of hypocrisy. It set the stage for many, to seek "truth", in order to rid themselves of contradiction and disharmony.

If you don't have a universal truth, then, don't attempt to propose a "universal" belief system - that's arrogant to say the least.

boomSLANG said...

Hint: John 9

Completely missing Webmaster's point, EMP is back, and STILL quoting scripture.

EMP, okay, you read somewhere that your Jesus smeared mud in a blind man's eyes, and THEN HE COULD SEE! Okay, fair enough--when your Jesus shows up and smears mud in my eyes, and then I can actually "see" him, then I'll reconvert. I swear on the bible! But until then, you may as well be smearing chicken shit on all of our door handles---in other words, quoting scripture on this EX-christian website is USLESS, and will continute to be uselss, until you, or Jesus himself, provides objective evidence for his supernatural existance.

Your friendly neighborhood skeptic: Just trying to get you to question your faith!

'Finally got the skeptic part right. However, it requires about as much "Faith" to not believe in your Jesus, as it does for you to not believe in Allah. In other words--NONE.

.:webmaster:. said...

EMP, I've been to your site, and I want to tell you that I was a Christian longer than you've been potty trained.

I no longer believe in the myth of Christianity. During the last five years of my Christian delusion I took to voraciously studying history and theology. Instead of just believing because I believed, I decided to do exactly what Jim Arvo suggests on this site: study everything -- find out all sides of the argument.

You are preaching and preaching and preaching, to the choir. Nearly everyone on this site has been a Christian and left the cult. You are railing on us to come to your Jesus, but your Bible clearly says that unless Jesus does the calling, ain't no one coming. He also said no one can take those who are his from his hand. Get it? You're wasting your time. If we were real Christians, then we couldn't leave. If we were never real Christians, then we can't just arbitrarily choose to become real Christians. Jesus does the calling. Jesus does the keeping. That's the gospel of grace. You seem to have a lesser gospel of works. You think people have to do something to receive their salvation. You think your salvation depended on some act on your part.

Now, don't get me wrong. For me, this entire subject is complete nonsense. I am conversant in it, but I disbelieve it. Oh, I'm also somewhat familiar with Greek mythology. I disbelieve that too.

steven said...

Hello, all. The most basic problem with a discussion such as this is the inability in most minds to accept change with humility, which requires a detachment, i think you will agree, from the information one views to be most probable, and their sense of self-identification. These being unfortunately linked inextricably. This innate tendency often results in three phenomena: one, it provides a foundational connection, apart from any other likeness, to the other party who also holds such convictions; two, conversely, it causes, from the start, an overwhelming sense of disconnectedness towards the party who holds dissimilar views, which thus provokes a desire to be understood and affirmed, which in turn leads to conflict if the parties are not savvy to diplomacy (the overwhelming tendency of bloggers here), or leads to an expanded perspective and greater understanding, both received and given, of the issues pertinent to the discussion, which in turn should lead to a closer view of the "truth;" or three, both parties realize the friction such a discussion could potentially create, and so avoid the topic altogether. It is my opinion that whoever is commenting against another's religious perspecive should do so with the utmost respect and even with a sense of temerity, not so much for the subject matter, proofs, etc. of the proponent of such a system, but for the phsychological state of that individual. The recklessness i have observed through reading these posts is excessive. Arrogance, slander, absolute incredulity, and an overall presence of biased determination to "shoot full of holes" another's perspective, is hardly the presence of maturity required for such a discussion. The obvious lack of self-control in these matters would only lead an objective observer to conclude that the anti-Christians here need desperately to adhere to "Christian" principles in their dealings with others, and especially those of another "faith." The Bible states that, "Wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, willing to yield, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality and without hypocrisy." Good diplomacy, such as that stated above, yields the most gain in any discussion. Those so hasty to discard the entire Bible (what other conclusion can be drawn?) should first consider that truth can be shown to abound therein, and such truth, stated in such a manner, as cannot be found in any other literature. Whatever contradictions, personifying of God with frail human attributes, extrapolations based on incredulous sources: these cannot in and of themselves negate the wealth of excellant wisdom also found within its pages. Such a stance is narrow minded, and in fact high-minded, and should be discouraged by those seeking the truth through intellectual honesty. As the Bible states, "Out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks," so also do many here betray their inner selves through their words, displaying a poor tempered, arrogant little child with a bit of knowledge. It is my hope that this will encourage a few humble persons to consider how they respond and why; has a sort of reverse-bias infiltrated your thinking? Christianity has many great features within its theological framework, however, when attempting to speak for God directly, or when attempting to forecast the future, or when insisting upon a mythological afterword, complete with gold roads, precious stone arrayed everything, and in plain view the smoke of the tormented rising, as a dark cloud complete with screams of agony and sorrow, forever on the horizon, it removes itself all on its own from sound wisdom, and places itself with the superstitions and fables of the ancients. However, everyone has believed such fables at some point if raised to, and so i must once more concur with the Bible when it says, "Speak evil of no one, but be peaceable, gentle, showing all humility to all men, for we ourselves were also once foolish."

Jim Arvo said...

Steven, regarding your post on 11/03/2006 1:57 AM EST, let me first offer a kindly word of advice. Paragraphs. They're a really good idea.

Now, I agree with many of the sentiments of your post. People often talk past each other for the simple reason that they immediately descend into attacks and visceral arguments. Rarely do people with diametrically opposed views on religion offer one another the respect they deserve, at least on discussion boards. As Plato observed, once you leave the realm of respect and reason, and are driven instead by anger, the ensuing dialog is of little value. So, I think we can agree that without civility, we get nowhere. (However, I still maintain that allowing exchristians a forum in which they can vent their frustration serves a legitimate role as well; but that's another issue.)

I disagree quite strongly with some of your other remarks, however, and feel that they ought not go unchallenged. For example, you said "The obvious lack of self-control in these matters would only lead an objective observer to conclude that the anti-Christians here need desperately to adhere to 'Christian' principles in their dealings with others,..."

First, you speak for a hypothetical "objective" observer. Is that a position you can legitimately claim for yourself? Are you not in fact offering an opinion, along with the rest of us? Second, your remark is aimed quite forcefully at a group you refer to as "anti-Christians", which is a label that seems rather unnecessary given that "ex-Christian" would be clearly understood and accepted by all. Moreover, it seems quite arbitrary to me that such a rebuke would be aimed at the exchristians and not the Christian visitors to this site. The Christian visitors here are quite often ill-mannered if not outright belligerent. But an even more disturbing and pervasive tendency is their lack of preparation (and, presumably, their lack of desire) for any kind of meaningful dialog. Let me be specific. The vast majority of Christian visitors here have virtually no idea what positions we hold, why we hold them, or what the purpose of this site is. Very few exhibit any interest at all in learning about our views, and sadly, are not even equipped with the most basic tools of critical thinking. I can provide dozens of examples, but I trust you can observe this for yourself. As one example, I go out of my way to provide direct and honest answers to all questions that are put to me (and often others as well), yet my questions are very frequently ignored (not always, but frequently).

I ask you this: Are you willing to state that it is incumbent upon ALL participants (who wish to enter into a meaningful dialog) to 1) attempt to grasp and fairly characterize the position of the other side, 2) answer questions that are put to them, and 3) refrain from leveling disparaging remarks simply because an opponent holds a different view?

If you can agree to this with no qualifiers, and no suggestion that one set of values or another is the exclusive domain of Christians, then we've taken a step in a positive direction. What say you?

One more remark I must take issue with. You said "Those so hasty to discard the entire Bible (what other conclusion can be drawn?) should first consider that truth can be shown to abound therein,..." This is an excellent example of where fairly characterizing an opposing view would be an enormous step toward having a meaningful dialog. As it stands, your question contains within it the assertion that some of us (who exactly?) are hastily "discarding" the Bible without even considering that it may contain "truth". Do you think that is a fair characterization? Have you not laid the first stone on the path to verbal warfare with that remark? Let me offer this rephrasing for your consideration: "In my opinion, the Bible contains some verifiable truths that ought not be overlooked, such as.... I claim these are verifiable because..." I, for one, would have no quarrel at all with such a statement, as it is offered as an opinion (not absolute truth), it offers something concrete to discuss, and it provides some rationale. In fact, I'd be eager to provide some examples of my own if presented with such an argument.

Just some food for thought. The ball is now in your court.

Steven said...

Thank you, Jim, for your willingness to engage in respectful dialogue with me on this particular issue.
Objectivity is a difficult position to prove, let alone the concept of “complete objectivity,” (not that you had asserted anyone to be claiming such, but it follows by natural implication) although some significant signs of non-objectivity can more easily be identified. These would include the oversimplification or complete ignorance of the best points present within the opposition’s argument, evasive maneuvering of speech, including indirect or incomplete answering of the questions of the other, strawmen, etc. However, the most telling signs of non-objectivity, or bias, are found in emotionally charged responses to a direct challenge. It shows a deep attachment and self-identification present to the subject matter itself, and thus to disagree with the truthfulness and/ or accuracy of particular points is, to that one who holds them, a direct attack upon the actual inherent worth of that individual. Now, it is evident that no one can escape completely from this connection, especially when dealing with controversial issues, but the more objective observer is able to detach his ego, to large extent, from the concepts that he/ she finds to be most probable. Therefore, based on this criteria, I do consider myself an objective observer regarding this particular issue. I do not, however, based on this criteria, consider almost any of the individuals who have posted comments which I have read here to be objective observers. I have randomly read perhaps thirty or more of these, and certainly enough to provoke my action to reply to what I have observed.
The concept of opinion is still more vague, and in fact, nothing “known” is not an opinion only. True fact is almost certainly incomplete truth at best. For example, it can be argued that there is no such thing as “one.” Such a simple and widely held idea is only an approximate, however close to actuality, and is still not completely accurate. Therefore, maintaining a disposition of humility, especially when engaging another in controversial issues, is most wise. Hence, although there is strong reason to believe that the theology of Christianity is errant, it would be immature and arrogant to take such an absolutist and condescending approach when refuting its concepts. My statement, which you disagreed strongly with, was as follows:

"The obvious lack of self-control in these matters would only lead an objective observer to conclude that the anti-Christians here need desperately to adhere to 'Christian' principles in their dealings with others,..."

After reconsidering my words, and what I have observed here, I still must maintain the conclusion that this is sound advise, and a solid admonition. The label, “ex-Christian,” although much more sensitive to the feelings of those who fall under it, I find to be an inaccurate depiction of the character, at least, of those who have commented here. “Anti-Christian” appears more accurate to me, as the stance taken by these is mostly offensive, antagonistic, that is, and as it is quite active, whereas “ex” is quite passive, I view it to be the more accurate of the two. However, to avoid unnecessary offense, unless it is essential for a particular point to be made to label these as such, I will refrain henceforth from using it, and instead, and at your indirect request, use “ex-Christian.”
Now, I have no objection to believing it is truthful to claim, as you did, that:

“The Christian visitors here are quite often ill-mannered if not outright belligerent. But an even more disturbing and pervasive tendency is their lack of preparation (and, presumably, their lack of desire) for any kind of meaningful dialog.”

However, this does not, as I see it, make my previous comments unjust or inaccurate, simply because I had directed them mostly towards the ex-Christians, although you are right to assert they were arbitrary, that is, within the boundaries of my own judgment I had decided to direct them thus. The reasons for this are several, and were stated in part already in my previous post. Firstly, those who hold to the Christian perspective are on the defensive altogether, and that of the ex-Christian’s, offensive, therefore the greater responsibility lies with the latter to take care as to the psychological implications their words will have upon the former, especially when considering the fact that all of these came from the same background of sorts, and so these ought the more to show the utmost empathy for their opponent’s current state-of-mind. Unfortunately, I have not found such maturity in their words, such maturity which the Bible often advocates, for example, “The servant of our Lord must not quarrel, but be gentle, apt at teaching, patient; with humility correcting those in opposition.” Oh, what inroads would be made into the minds of those who adhere to this faith, and what avoidance of so common a defense mechanism, which naturally springs forth when one’s core beliefs are attacked with proud condescension, if only those who hold a closer semblance to the truth were also wise enough to attain to Socratic humility…

“I ask you this: Are you willing to state that it is incumbent upon ALL participants (who wish to enter into a meaningful dialog) to 1) attempt to grasp and fairly characterize the position of the other side, 2) answer questions that are put to them, and 3) refrain from leveling disparaging remarks simply because an opponent holds a different view? If you can agree to this with no qualifiers, and no suggestion that one set of values or another is the exclusive domain of Christians, then we've taken a step in a positive direction. What say you?”

Instead of going into detail of the arguments which complicate each of these prerequisites, I will only state that, yes, I believe it is incumbent upon all participants, although I would ask, are you implying that these are held more often by the ex-Christians than by the Christians? Let us assume it is true, although I am sure I could argue that it is not, however, even if it is, it is still the responsibility of the teacher to abstain from any form of derision or condescension or harsh, undiplomatic rebuttal of any kind. The Bible admonishes, as well as any authoritative document on argumentation, to seek to bring the other with you towards the truth, to present your ideas and contradictions of the other’s beliefs with temerity and care, and to speak with empathy and compassion, or else give way to one who can. The onus lies altogether with the ex-Christians in this regard.

“One more remark I must take issue with. You said, "Those so hasty to discard the entire Bible (what other conclusion can be drawn?) should first consider that truth can be shown to abound therein,..."…As it stands, your question contains within it the assertion that some of us (who exactly?) are hastily "discarding" the Bible without even considering that it may contain "truth". Do you think that is a fair characterization? Have you not laid the first stone on the path to verbal warfare with that remark?”

I thoroughly understand your position on my statement, although, as asked parenthetically before, what other conclusion can be drawn? I have not seen one position advocated on this site which holds that the Bible does contain some very excellent wisdom, especially regarding human interaction and “balance” in life. If I had, even one, I would not have asserted such. I am left by default to assume that the antagonists here, those who have provoked the entire discussion initially, do not view this book but full of fables and cruelty and contradictions and unethical treatments advocated by God. Truly, cases could and have been made for each of these and more, however, the exclusive treatment of the Bible in this way only reveals an ignorant disposition. Calling this verbal warfare, however, in my opinion is perhaps an exaggeration.

Thank you again for your care, attention, and thorough handling of this discussion! I look forward to reading your reply.


Kind Regards,
Steven

boomSLANG said...

I have not seen one position advocated on this site which holds that the Bible does contain some very excellent wisdom, especially regarding human interaction and “balance” in life.

Per the Bible---some Christians think that being anti-gay is "excellent wisdom". Some think that a "flat earth" is "excellent wisdom". Some think that the oppression of women is "excellent wisdom". Some Christians think that telling non-christians that they're going to "burn in hell" is "excellent wisdom".

Case and point---Christians use the Holy Bible to justify their OWN bias/prejudice. They "cherry-pick" the verses that they like, and dismiss or "reconstruct" the verses they don't. As far as "morals", there is no such objective/universal truth in the Holy Bible, or any other religious document, for that matter. The "Golden rule" is common sense; common curtiosy....along with cultural relativity playing a large role. Personally, I don't need to read from a book to know that murder is "wrong", or that treating my neighbor as I wish to be treated is "right". I don't need the bible for "balance" in my life.

Moreover, while most, if not all of us are ex-christian---or if it lets one feel better---"formerly" christian, not all are Atheists. Speaking only for myself, I am Atheist; anti-theist; non-theist...so yeah, that technically makes me "anti-christianity"...not necessarily anti-person who is Christian.

I have no qualms about my non-belief. A Christian is person who has a belief. I may disagree with that belief, but I support their right to believe it. I don't get the same feeling from the other side, though. The president's father says he doesn't know if I should even be considered a citizen of the United States--- more "wisdom"? Well, I find it disturbing. Also, I don't appreciate the implication that because I don't "see" the "good" that another subjectively chooses to see in the bible, that I'm "ignorant".

Thanks.

Steven said...

Thank you, Boomslang, for taking some time to reply. You stated:

“Per the Bible---some Christians think that being anti-gay is "excellent wisdom". Some think that a "flat earth" is "excellent wisdom". Some think that the oppression of women is "excellent wisdom". Some Christians think that telling non-christians that they're going to "burn in hell" is "excellent wisdom".”

It seems that by implication, you are attempting to refute the idea (correct me if I am wrong) that the Bible contains excellent wisdom, based upon the biases held by the majority (perhaps arguable) of those who label themselves as “Christian.” It is illogical to do so, and is a common faulty device used in argumentation which ignores the points of another, and instead builds a “strawman” to attack. These statements do nothing to prove my statements about the Bible false and so I must ask you to please try a more direct approach if you desire to do so.

You then stated:

“As far as "morals", there is no such objective/universal truth in the Holy Bible, or any other religious document, for that matter. The "Golden rule" is common sense; common curtiosy....along with cultural relativity playing a large role. Personally, I don't need to read from a book to know that murder is "wrong", or that treating my neighbor as I wish to be treated is "right". I don't need the bible for "balance" in my life.”

Firstly, are you saying by such reasoning that “common sense” and “common courtesy” are not “objective/ universal truth?” It seems an obvious contradiction, and so I must ask you to please clarify your position. Further, my statement that the handling of so delicate a subject matter, and its subject’s mind-set, is often done so here with arrogance and immaturity is not refutable; I could easily cite many instances, as I am sure you realize, and so, the logical conclusion could be drawn that the “golden rule,” which you say is such common sense, and which you also have proven time and again to ignore, is not being applied, and therefore, those who are not applying it are either ignorant of its value, or by choice have decided to discard it as not useful, thus moving backwards from maturity to immaturity, in regard to dealing with the particulars of the discussion of controversial ideas/ beliefs. The concept of balance is another issue, and as I cannot know the details of your life and relationships with others, your personal ambitions, etc., I cannot know whether your statement about not needing the Bible’s wise sayings about such things is accurate or not, and have never stated that I knew. I merely stated that it contained such excellent wisdom, and I am yet to be refuted on it.

“Moreover, while most, if not all of us are ex-christian---or if it lets one feel better---"formerly" christian, not all are Atheists. Speaking only for myself, I am Atheist; anti-theist; non-theist...so yeah, that technically makes me "anti-christianity"...not necessarily anti-person who is Christian.”

Atheism is an altogether different issue, which I am happy to discuss, however I had not inferred anything about it one way or the other. To say that being "anti-Christianity" does not make you "anti-person-who-is-Christian," necessarily, is of course incontestable, however, the choice of speech directed at these Christians says much to the contrary.

“I have no qualms about my non-belief. A Christian is person who has a belief. I may disagree with that belief, but I support their right to believe it. I don't get the same feeling from the other side, though. The president's father says he doesn't know if I should even be considered a citizen of the United States--- more "wisdom"? Well, I find it disturbing. Also, I don't appreciate the implication that because I don't "see" the "good" that another subjectively chooses to see in the bible, that I'm "ignorant".”

I am sure you do not have any qualms about your non-belief, and neither do I, concerning yours, that is. If you supported their right to believe it, and were in actuality as diplomatic as you seem to infer here, then you would not direct such slanderous speech towards them, but instead would show kindness, humility, and empathy in your wording. Concerning the president’s father’s words, which I have not heard myself, but even if assuming he had said them, still does not justify your consistently crude handling of the subject matter, and obvious ill-regard for the psychological state of any religion’s adherents. This, of course, is only a defensive response to your feeling that your position is being attacked by me, and I can appreciate that, as it is in fact, as you have shown yourself to be without care for aiding others into a closer semblance of the truth, but instead only railing them for their biased views, and therefore do more to harm the cause of truth and constructive dialogue, than you do to support it, and further, aid in closing the channels of oconversation which may be beginning within the minds of fundamentalist religious adherents. Lastly, your decision to ignore any wisdom which the Bible may contain, but choose not to ignore the faults therein, and instead to actively seek them out, does in fact make you yourself “ignorant.” Whether you appreciate this or not is of little concern to me, especially when considering your rude treatment of others.

Alan said...

Steven:

What you are calling for in your own verbose way is a civil discussion, and I don't think anyone can argue against that. I haven't read through this entire thread but typically talk about religion causes emotional reactions, and one should be careful not to stereotype any group based on selected individual behavior. We are free to ignore the emotional responses and concentrate on the debate over ideas.

You are correct that the Bible contains truth and wisdom, but because it contains some truth, it does not necessarily follow that it is all truth. We have no scientific evidence to corroborate a Biblical worldview (personal psychological events are not adequate evidence,) and dismissing science altogether is convenient but not very convincing. Its difficult to have a rational discussion with a religious person about their beliefs because those beliefs are inherently irrational, and it is natural to become defensive when one's core beliefs are challenged. To make matters worse Christianity is not about live and let live, it requires its followers to "spread the good news," and those that don't heed the message are going to hell, end of story. Also Christians often claim that they have "knowledge" about their religion that somehow transcends mere reason, which is another good way to end a debate. A great deal of time and energy has been expended to apply a veneer of rationality to religious belief, but we will always come back to the problem of lack of credible evidence and the need to believe in the veracity of a 2000 year-old text.

boomSLANG said...

Steven, I have to ask---are you the same "Steven" who posted in the "GOD" thread? If so, I thought it was there that you recently said you weren't a Christian, no? I ask because you seem to be defending Christianity an awful lot for someone who is "not a Christian". I hope you're not being disingenuous. If I'm wrong, please correct me...as I don't want to sit here and defend my errors.

Moving on---we're discussing whether there is objective truth in the "bible"--- NOT whether you "think" boomslang follows it, or not....so, it seems that in that regard, you attack a "strawman". BTW, is there no "truth" in what I say, simply because you personally don't like my demeanor and/or debate ethic? I hope not, because you just accused me of doing the same regarding the "wisdom" in the bible. The difference is---is there are no "conditions" attached to my Atheism and/or debate ethic; you won't "burn in hellfire" for not adopting Atheism. Furthermore, as one poster said--you can skip over whatever you so choose.

Back to the subject--- because Steven finds verses in the bible that he thinks are "wise", it doesn't mean that everyone finds them equally wise, and even IF we did all agree, it doesn't negate the stuff that is not-so-wise...stuff like killing all non-believers, hating your parents, dashing little kids against rocks, and that vegetation speaks the human language.

So, my point was, again, that the bible--and all other religious documentation--is purely subjective. Face it, we have opposing worldviews, so let's try and stick to the facts.

Thanks.

Steven said...

Thank you, Alan, for replying to my, in your words, verbose post, however, it does appear you have not thoroughly read it, by your own admission. Then you stated:

“You are correct that the Bible contains truth and wisdom, but because it contains some truth, it does not necessarily follow that it is all truth. We have no scientific evidence to corroborate a Biblical worldview (personal psychological events are not adequate evidence,) and dismissing science altogether is convenient but not very convincing.”

I am happy to see that you agree with my assertion that the Bible contains truth and wisdom, simply because it is easy to construct evidence for this assertion, and this tells me that you are not, at least in this regard, a biased individual. However, it appears you are suggesting that because I view it to contain such, like you, then I therefore am extending perfection to it. Reading through the entirety of my posts above would correct this error of presumption all on its own, and I encourage you to please do so, especially before casting such a judgment, however indirectly you did it. Now, I agree that there are portions of the Bible that are scientifically inaccurate and should be discarded, however, when you suggest there is no scientific evidence to corroborate a “Biblical worldview,” you are mistaken. A “worldview” is simply a way in which you view the world to be, and to have come about the conclusion that design is inherent in DNA and the laws of nature, based upon perception and the concept of there existing a Creator, is fully in line with scientific evidence. There is no scientific evidence to support the rejection of this idea, so why should the Christian not hold to it? Especially when considering that there is less “evidence” to support the idea of atheism. I had in no way advocated, or even implied, the dismissal of science in any way. Of course it is then not “convenient” for me to have done what I never did. On what, then, do you base your assertion?

Concerning the rest of what you wrote, I agree, however, I do not see how it applies to this discussion on the manner and stance that one should take when contending with a religious adherent. Are you suggesting that because of the difficulty, which lies in their irrationality, then it is therefore acceptable to attack them through condescending discourse? I hope not.

Boomslang, thank you for replying. Yes, I am that same person, and no, I am not a Christian, and am quite surprised by your insistence that I might be, based on the false assumption that I am defending the faith of Christianity, especially when considering the statements I have already made on the injustice and scientific error found in certain of the Bible’s passages. It seems to me that your bias against this faith is affecting how you view anyone who finds truth in much of its foundational writings. As I have stated before in the post you are referring to, my beliefs, as I have tested and weighed the various philosophical arguments and scientific evidence regarding this topic, fall most closely in line with deism. In fact, I do not know of one instant wherein I defended the religion known as Christianity. Perhaps you could show me when I did this?

“Moving on---we're discussing whether there is objective truth in the "bible"--- NOT whether you "think" boomslang follows it, or not....so, it seems that in that regard, you attack a "strawman".”

Your insistence on diversion is striking. Firstly, we were discussing the presence of a “reverse-bias” of sorts found in the writings of most ex-Christians here, which I believe to be highly counter-productive. Secondly, I had made a clear statement which was not building a “strawman” at all, which was:

“Thank you, Boomslang, for taking some time to reply. You stated:

“Per the Bible---some Christians think that being anti-gay is "excellent wisdom". Some think that a "flat earth" is "excellent wisdom". Some think that the oppression of women is "excellent wisdom". Some Christians think that telling non-christians that they're going to "burn in hell" is "excellent wisdom".”

It seems that by implication, you are attempting to refute the idea (correct me if I am wrong) that the Bible contains excellent wisdom, based upon the biases held by the majority (perhaps arguable) of those who label themselves as “Christian.” It is illogical to do so, and is a common faulty device used in argumentation which ignores the points of another, and instead builds a “strawman” to attack. These statements do nothing to prove my statements about the Bible false and so I must ask you to please try a more direct approach if you desire to do so.”

To this, I am still awaiting a direct reply.

“BTW, is there no "truth" in what I say, simply because you personally don't like my demeanor and/or debate ethic? I hope not, because you just accused me of doing the same regarding the "wisdom" in the bible. The difference is---is there are no "conditions" attached to my Atheism and/or debate ethic; you won't "burn in hellfire" for not adopting Atheism. Furthermore, as one poster said--you can skip over whatever you so choose.”

Of course, I had never suggested there is no truth in what you or others here have said, and in fact, and a point to which you seemingly have given no attention, I have concurred with the points made by ex-Christian here repeated times. Concerning whether or not I accused you of rejecting there being wisdom in the Bible, I will simply quote your words: “there is no such objective/universal truth in the Holy Bible, or any other religious document, for that matter.

“Back to the subject--- because Steven finds verses in the bible that he thinks are "wise", it doesn't mean that everyone finds them equally wise, and even IF we did all agree, it doesn't negate the stuff that is not-so-wise...stuff like killing all non-believers, hating your parents, dashing little kids against rocks, and that vegetation speaks the human language.”

Of course, once again, I had never suggested anything of the sort, and I am truly in wonder as to how you concluded that this was what I had asserted. It seems to me that the one who is dodging the points and creating diversion is only you. Furthermore, you grossly misrepresented what the Bible condones in such a statement. Where does it advocate killing all non-believers? Or where can you prove Jesus was saying to “hate your parents,” and instead, and according to another excerpt from that passage in a different gospel, he was not using a common euphemism, and so never condoned hatred of any kind? When did Christian theology ever condone dashing children against rocks? And that vegetation speaks human language? These are taken from passages which clearly express an altogether different connotation when read in context, and so you are quite wrong, and in addition to not being factual, you only prove further my statement that you and others here are acting out of anger and a reverse-bias, instead of clear logic and reason, combined with empathy. The latter would serve much better for all.

“So, my point was, again, that the bible--and all other religious documentation--is purely subjective. Face it, we have opposing worldviews, so let's try and stick to the facts.”

Such a sweeping generalization can only be described as ignorance. The “facts” are the only things I am eager to adhere to, for sure, and by saying what you have above, you are clearly asserting that I continually, and apparently, quite exhaustingly and irritatingly to your own temperament, drift out of fact and into fiction. Now, I must ask you, please state clearly where and how I have done so. Furthermore, I take contention with the idea that all religious documentation is purely subjective, as it very often describes the best pathway to peace and understanding in interpersonal relationships. How is this subjective? I am looking forward to your reply.

Steven

boomSLANG said...

Yes, I am that same person, and no, I am not a Christian, and am quite surprised by your insistence that I might be, based on the false assumption that I am defending the faith of Christianity, especially when considering the statements I have already made on the injustice and scientific error found in certain of the Bible’s passages.

Steven,

"Insistence" that "I might be"??? Isn't that a contradiction?.... "Insistance"/"might be"? Nonetheless, I am not "insisting" that you are Christian--please don't put words in my mouth from now on, okay? Thanks. I said that you sure are "defending" the Holy Bible, which is the doctrine, of Christianity, in which case, it seems odd, for someone who is "not Christian". Am I way off in left field because I do so? I don't think so. Nonetheless, if you are "not a Christian", then why do you even care if there is "wisdom" in the bible? Steven....WHAT is your underlying point? THAT is a "direct" question. Shit, we can arbitrarily find "wisdom" in the Holy "Q'ran too, if we look hard enough---so why aren't you defending the passages in that Holy book, too? Also, please refrain from saying "correct me if I'm wrong"..it's annoying....and actually, YOU are annoying, but this has nothing to do with my worldview = )

Steven, in your argument, you are no different than any fundamentalist who strolls in here. Actually, if your argument is any different from any Christian argument----what IS the difference, other than your insistance that you are in fact NOT Christian?

Steven said: "There is wisdom in the Bible". So?...is that it? I'm sorry, but I'm sticking to the facts, which you seem to not want to do. So AGAIN...my point is that the Holy Bible, whether it contains "bits" of wisdom, or not, is purely subjective.

It seems to me that the one who is dodging the points and creating diversion is only you. Furthermore, you grossly misrepresented what the Bible condones in such a statement. Where does it advocate killing all non-believers?

"Gross misrepresentation": And that prophet, or that dreamer of dreams, shall be put to death; because he hath spoken to turn [you] away from the LORD your God, which brought you out of the land of Egypt, and redeemed you out of the house of bondage, to thrust thee out of the way which the LORD thy God commanded thee to walk in. So shalt thou put the evil away from the midst of thee.

Deu 13:6 ¶ If thy brother, the son of thy mother, or thy son, or thy daughter, or the wife of thy bosom, or thy friend, which [is] as thine own soul, entice thee secretly, saying, Let us go and serve other gods, which thou hast not known, thou, nor thy fathers;

Deu 13:7 [Namely], of the gods of the people which [are] round about you, nigh unto thee, or far off from thee, from the [one] end of the earth even unto the [other] end of the earth;

Deu 13:8 Thou shalt not consent unto him, nor hearken unto him; neither shall thine eye pity him, neither shalt thou spare, neither shalt thou conceal him:

Deu 13:9 But thou shalt surely kill him; thine hand shall be first upon him to put him to death, and afterwards the hand of all the people.

Deu 13:10 And thou shalt stone him with stones, that he die; because he hath sought to thrust thee away from the LORD thy God, which brought thee out of the land of Egypt, from the house of bondage.


Steven, there it is, in plain language.....all that "wisdom". Oh, let me guess...I'm taking it "out of context", right? Yeah, sure...we know the song and dance.
But you're not a Christian anyway, so what does it matter, right?

Or where can you prove Jesus was saying to “hate your parents,”

Um, I'm using the same exact reference to "prove" Jesus said what he said, as YOU use to "prove" he said he said. The "Holy Bible". All that "wisdom"?...remember?

If any man come to me, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple. Luke 14:26

How will you spin it, Steven? Waiting.

Furthermore, I take contention with the idea that all religious documentation is purely subjective, as it very often describes the best pathway to peace and understanding in interpersonal relationships.

Then why is that no two "religions" see eye-to-eye on "peace and understanding"? Are people killing each other as we f%cking speak, because there is "peace and understanding" between them? Get real Steven. Religious belief IS subjective...get over yourself.

Bentley said...

To Steve,

Psalms 137:9 Happy shall he be, that taketh and dasheth thy little ones against the stones.

Steves spin, I said the Christian religion, not the Jewish religion, OT!

Steven said...

Boomslang! How happy I am to see your response, complete with bold typed scripture references! Thank you for the reply, however annoying I have become to you. Let me begin by saying that I have been under the impression for some time now that you and others assume I am probably Christian by the content of your responses, and then finally receiving your direct question revealed this to be true. It seemed odd to me, though, that you would base this not upon my profession of such, nor upon my complete defense of that faith, but simply upon the fact that I do not eschew it, nor reject it completely as you have, in that I see large parts of the wisdom found in its Bible to be sound and completely defensible. This seemed to be insistent, although still uncertain, and therefore I said, “…your insistence that I might be.” You stated:

“I am not "insisting" that you are Christian--please don't put words in my mouth from now on, okay? Thanks. I said that you sure are "defending" the Holy Bible, which is the doctrine, of Christianity, in which case, it seems odd, for someone who is "not Christian". Am I way off in left field because I do so? I don't think so. Nonetheless, if you are "not a Christian", then why do you even care if there is "wisdom" in the bible? Steven....WHAT is your underlying point? THAT is a "direct" question.”

I must mention something here, and that something may offend you. I am sure you are surprised. But, by your choices of wording I can tell two things. At least, they are almost certain to me. One, you are a woman, and two, you have a strong bend towards feminism. Am I accurate? Now, does this mean that I, being a man, am somehow superior to you? No. But does it mean perhaps that you, being a woman, and able to reach a deeper level of compassion than most men, should be superior to me in extending that compassion towards those Christians with whom you are disputing? I would think, definitely. Now, you may be calling me some very negative names right now, and I suppose our culture even requires you to do so, but is it rational and within the bounds of reason, or have you not trumped good reason with emotion? I must conclude that this happens frequently in your posts, at least the ones I have read. Your use of italics, all caps, quotes when uncalled for, and bold print appear nearly hysterical, and I fear for you, whether or not I am giving you a migraine. But to answer your above questions directly (something you have done almost not at all), I “care” to assert that there is wisdom in the Bible in response to the obvious perception that this book is very much hated by most ex-Christians here. As I have said before, no one here is bothering to show the positive aspects of Christianity, nor the very many passages in the Bible that exude excellent wisdom, but instead are painted it black entirely. If someone is to contend with a particular point of view, they ought to do so objectively, and be willing and able to accept that the point of view they disagree with will almost certainly have good points and logical conclusions found within it, otherwise it would have no or very few adherents. I have yet to see this done here, and can therefore claim accurately that willing ignorance and an emotional furor occupy those person’s motivations, instead of a drive to bring the ill-informed, the deceived, closer to the truth. The idea to consistently attack is foolish and counter-productive. That is why, because it is obviously completely overlooked by those anti-Christians here.

“Shit, we can arbitrarily find "wisdom" in the Holy "Q'ran too, if we look hard enough---so why aren't you defending the passages in that Holy book, too?”

Actually, I would be if this were an “ex-Moslem” site, and there was the same overarching negative sentiment and absolutist mentality regarding the Qur’an like that which I have found to be in abundance here concerning the Bible.

“Also, please refrain from saying "correct me if I'm wrong"..it's annoying...”

As you request. Of course, annoying you is only a very minor part of my motivation in responding to your writes.

“Steven, in your argument, you are no different than any fundamentalist who strolls in here. Actually, if your argument is any different from any Christian argument----what IS the difference, other than your insistance that you are in fact NOT Christian?”

I believe this is quite unfair and oversimplifying both who I am and what I consider “truth.” Especially in contradiction to your opinion are the statements I have already made which show that I agree to the various flaws present in the Bible. I do not believe it is inerrant, nor do I believe that any part of it which can be shown to be false or unjust is inspired by God. However, I do believe truth is in unity with God’s design, and therefore to find truth is to find an aspect of God. Hence, because I find many parts of the Bible to be in accordance with principles of truth, I also view these portions to be in line with how God has brought to us the conceptualization of a functional system. This means not that God Himself had inspired the writers of the Bible, but that they discovered portions of truth, and large portions at that, which convey high ideas and wise paths, intended by God to be realized and applied by man through the natural process of societal evolution. Lastly, if you state that I am no different than any other fundamentalist who “strolls in here,” which of course is simply an erroneous, emotionally changed sentiment, then you should be happy to present me with the verification of such a claim. Please show me how I am “no different,” as I have all along shown many ways in which I am different.

“Steven said: "There is wisdom in the Bible". So?...is that it? I'm sorry, but I'm sticking to the facts, which you seem to not want to do. So AGAIN...my point is that the Holy Bible, whether it contains "bits" of wisdom, or not, is purely subjective.”

Perhaps my confusion is coming from my concept of what is meant by “subjective.” For one, this term to me means, “not objective.” Now, before you stated that what wisdom the Bible does have is mere “common sense,” and so, do you see common sense as not being objective? I think your point is that you hate the Bible, and wish you could burn every one and erase its trace from any mind that may hold its semblance. If you do not, then why? It can only be because you agree with me, that it has, with its errors (similar to that found in The Iliad), a wealth of wisdom profitable for humanity.

Regarding your quotations, the first group found in Deut. 13 say nothing of “killing all unbelievers,” which is exactly what you asserted the Bible purported. It does not, and neither do these verses.

“If any man come to me, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple.” (Luke 14:26)

See now this same quotation stated differently in another gospel:

“He that loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me: and he that loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me.” (Matt. 10:37)

The idea that any Christian will say is being presented here is not hatred (which, as I said before, was a common idiom), but rather having a greater love for anything or anyone than Christ. Every other teaching in the Bible eschews the idea of hating your family, and so to assume that this is anything other than an idiomatic expression is groundless.

“…why is that no two "religions" see eye-to-eye on "peace and understanding"? Are people killing each other as we f%cking speak, because there is "peace and understanding" between them? Get real Steven. Religious belief IS subjective...get over yourself.”

How, may I ask, should I proceed with “getting over myself?” It is an interesting idea. However, your other comments are unfortunately another diversion. I am not so sure it would be of benefit to show you, again, how you are doing this and why it is counter-productive, misses the mark, and only displays ignorance… The idea that all religion is purely subjective because a vast—a very vast minority are engaging in warfare or actual fighting of some kind over it, is a grossly illogical conclusion. As far as seeing eye to eye on “peace and understanding,” particularly regarding interpersonal relationships, and the wisdom of balance, they usually flow quite harmoniously. The various teachings on respecting the elder, loving the stranger, helping the less fortunate, eschewing vain ambitions, seeking the benefit of the whole, loving your family, showing the utmost faithfulness and respect for the covenants and promises you make, are found in every major faith, and are the most consistent teachings directed towards its adherents.

To Bentley, I am aware of this quotation, however it does not in any way advocate such behavior, but states that those who do this which has already been done to the Hebrews by the Babylonians will be blessed, happy, in that they will have wrought justice. It does not advocate randomly committing such acts, not even against her enemies. Do I agree with such sentiments? Certainly not, however, this does not paint the whole book black for me. And by the way, I said the Christian religion, not the Jewish religion.

Jim Arvo said...

Steven: "...the most telling signs of non-objectivity, or bias, are found in emotionally charged responses to a direct challenge..."

In some instances that is clearly so, but an emotional response does not necessarily imply a lack of reasoning or objectivity. It is sometimes a sign of pure irritation at having been asked the same question so many times, or having been asked a "complex question" that contains one or more unfounded assertions, or a question whose very phrasing exhibits deep hostility. In fact, there are many reasons that one may react emotionally to a question, only one of which is that one feels threatened, so I think it's misleading to say that it is the "most telling" sign.

Steven: "...based on this criteria, I do consider myself an objective observer regarding this particular issue."

I think that is very far from being the case, for reasons I cite below.

Steven: "...I do not, however, based on this criteria, consider almost any of the individuals who have posted comments which I have read here to be objective observers. I have randomly read perhaps thirty or more of these,..."

That's a very small sample. This thread alone has hundreds of posts, and there are hundreds of threads. Furthermore, I really don't think you're in a position to judge the level of objectivity in anybody's post.

Steven: "The concept of opinion is still more vague,..."

I don't think it's vague at all. On opinion is a belief with support that is tenuous, or not well formulated, or not easy to articulate. If the belief is backed by sound evidence and/or rigorous reasoning, it may then be referred to as "knowledge".

Steven: "...although there is strong reason to believe that the theology of Christianity is errant, it would be immature and arrogant to take such an absolutist and condescending approach when refuting its concepts."

There's a lot of emotionally charged language in that sentence, and I simply cannot agree with it as stated. If there is "strong reason to believe" something errant, then stating those reasons and taking a position is warranted. I'm not sure where the "absolutism" or "condescension" comes into this; it seems you are asserting something else in addition to providing evidence and taking a position. (But I do not follow you.)

Let's be concrete. I assert that the Bible is filled with mythical motifs, some very likely adapted from more ancient religions (e.g. slaughter of the innocents, turning water into wine, human-divine unions). It also contains copyist errors, copyist redactions, midrash, forgeries, and interpolations. Each of these I can support with rational argument. I think they are sufficiently established that it is rational to use them as premises in a larger argument, such as asserting that the Bible is not the inerrant word of anyone, let alone an omnipotent being. Is that being absolutist or condescending?

I have said numerous times, in many threads here, that the Bible also contains some superlative poetry, and some outstanding wisdom; one of my personal favorites is Matthew 7:5: "...First remove the beam out of your own eye, and then you can see clearly to remove the speck out of your brother's eye." I truly wish that more people would heed that advice. However, the passages I find to be of value are of no use to me when I wish to explain why I do not believe the Bible to be inerrant, or the inspired "word of god," which is a common topic around here. In fact, I'd wager that that is the number one reason that the valuable grains of wisdom in the Bible are not discussed much here; they simply serve no purpose in most discussions. As Thomas Paine said, those passages are as pearls in dung. If the point one is trying to make is that the Bible exudes an unpleasant odor (metaphorically), then one points to the dung, not the pearls.

Steven: "After reconsidering my words, and what I have observed here, I still must maintain the conclusion that this is sound advise, and a solid admonition."

But you completely evaded my criticism, which was that your remark was inexplicably one-sided, and therefore misleading. In addition to that, you've chosen very inflammatory language to raise your objection, as you have done on a number of occasions. There is no need to label it as a "lack of self-control" (which is merely a conjecture on your part anyway), you needn't have used the prefix "anti-", and there is little justification to label the principles as "Christian," as the golden rule, for example, long predates Christianity and is not its sole property. These are all unnecessary and inflammatory barbs that add nothing to your argument. Despite all your overt calls for decorum, it seems you too are given to hurling unwarranted accusations and thinly veiled insults.

Steven: "“Anti-Christian” appears more accurate to me,...."

That speaks to a mental state that you are not privy to, and it conflates opposing a philosophical position (Christianity) with opposing its adherents (Christians).

Steven: "...as the stance taken by these is mostly offensive, antagonistic, that is, and as it is quite active, whereas “ex” is quite passive,..."

The point that you seem to continually miss is that the Christians who draw fire here are the ones who COME TO THIS SITE, which has the name "ExChristian", and feel it's appropriate to proselytize, often without any attempt to understand the positions taken here or the purpose of the site. (As I've stated before.) I see that as being rude, as do many of the regulars here. Yes, there is quite a bit of antagonism exhibited when such a person posts here. I have tried many different srtategies in dealing with such posters and, frankly, nothing seems to get through to them. I support the right of people to adhere to whatever religion they wish; but I also exert my right to voice my disagreement, especially at a site like this, which is expressly set up for like-minded folks who have deliberately left Christianity. More on this point below.

Steven: "...those who hold to the Christian perspective are on the defensive altogether, and that of the ex-Christian’s, offensive,..."

If by "defensive" you mean that they have the burden of proof, then to a first approximation you are correct.The Christians assert the truth of their doctrine; being a positive claim, they bear the initial burden of proof. But you go on to say that "the greater responsibility lies with the latter [non-Christians] to take care as to the psychological implications their words will have upon the former [Christians],..." which is clearly asserting something well beyond the burden of proof. Here I partly agree with your conclusion, but strongly disagree with your reasoning. I do not think I bear any responsibility for someone's mental state simply because they hold a belief about which I an skeptical, which they find disturbing.

If someone claims that we will be invaded by aliens at 8:00 AM tomorrow morning, am I obliged to treat their claim gingerly so as not to upset them? (Indeed I might, but that's another issue.) If they further assert that we must immediately summon the police and the national guard, am I not acting responsibly to place the needs of the community above any psychological inconvenience caused to the person? This is all the more so if the claim is not backed by credible evidence, or has been asserted time and again by the same individual, or the person has been shown ad nauseum why their claim is specious, etc.

So, it seems to me, your statement above is granting some special status to Christians; and to some extent, I will even agree with that for the following reason: Christianity is generally not a self-contained belief, but an all-consuming one. That is, it tends to influence a wide spectrum of thinking, dictates the company one keeps, and is well-known to be a deeply emotional state of mind. Attacking one's religious convictions is therefore likely to be far more upsetting than, say, attacking one's political opinions or taste in art.

For this reason, when a Christian posts here in a manner that is reasonably polite, and they show the slightest interest in actually discussing rather than proselytizing, I go out of my way to be polite in return. To me, that is an opportunity to glimpse another world view, and possibly to learn something. It's also a way to lessen the divide that separates the religious and the non-religious. However, my patience has often been worn thin, and the limits of my tolerance tested by people who simply cannot grant that decent people might disagree with them on matters of theology. In those cases, I feel no compunction in being less polite.

Steven: "Instead of going into detail [about my list of three principles to adhere to] of the arguments which complicate each of these prerequisites, I will only state that, yes, I believe it is incumbent upon all participants, although I would ask, are you implying that these are held more often by the ex-Christians than by the Christians?"

I chose the three least controversial guidelines I could imagine, thinking that you would be quite willing to affirm them. So I'm rather surprised that you think there are any "complicating" factors. Are there cases in which one need not attempt to understand what the other side is saying, or need not fairly characterize it? Please enlighten me. As for whether these principles are adhered to more by non-Christians than Christians, I did not imply one way or the other. As for the general question, I prefer not to extrapolate so extravagantly from my own limited experience. When it comes to visitors to this site, however, then I would say absolutely, the regulars here are far more apt to follow the at least the first two principles I listed (i.e. understanding the opponent's position, and answering questions). I will not hazard a guess as to who is more likely to first level insults, because there is a lot of that going in both directions.

Steven: "I thoroughly understand your position on my statement, although, as asked parenthetically before, what other conclusion can be drawn?"

I can't help but ask "Is that a trick question?" Put plainly, your sweeping conclusion about people here being hasty in dismissing everything in the Bible is unwarranted, so you needn't draw it at all. If you were really interested in whether that was true (rather than casting aspersions), you could have tried posing the question "Do you believe everything in the Bible is wrong?" I, for one, would have quickly answered "No." Even if you did not wish to pose that question, for some reason, I don't see how you can make the inference that you did based on what people have written here. First, the "hasty" part of your assertion is absurd on the face of it. Do you realize how many years people here have invested in earnestly studying and believing in the Bible? Many decades in some cases. Secondly, no matter how many errors people point out, it does not imply that they think everything is an error. That generalization is blatantly fallacious.

Steven: "I have not seen one position advocated on this site which holds that the Bible does contain some very excellent wisdom..."

Then you've not looked very hard. And even if it were true that no such statements are posted here, it still does not follow that we have dismissed everything, hastily or otherwise.

Steven to BoomSLANG: "...you have shown yourself to be without care for aiding others into a closer semblance of the truth, but instead only railing them for their biased views, and therefore do more to harm the cause of truth and constructive dialogue..."

That's extremely presumptuous of you, and even rude. How can you possibly claim that BoomSLANG does not care about helping others to gain a better understanding? Please explain your reasoning. Is it based on one or two posts? If so, that alone is grounds for dismissing your comment as nothing but an unwarranted ad hominem attack. Such a hasty and inflammatory assertion is not a sign of "objectivity", by the way.

Steven to BoomSLANG: "...your decision to ignore any wisdom which the Bible may contain,..."

That again is fallacious, not only because you have NO IDEA what decisions BoomSLANG has or has not made regarding this, but because, once again, focusing on the errors does not imply that everything is an error. Finally, your quip about BoomSLANG being "ignorant" is more inflammatory rhetoric based on absolutely nothing.

In summary, there is very little we agree upon, even (apparently) some very basic guidelines for how to conduct a civil and meaningful discussion. Frankly, I'm extremely put off by your thinly-veiled attacks; I see them as being no more honorable than blatant name-calling. In fact, in some ways I find it more loathsome, as it purports to be something it is not; i.e. civil. Finally, I see no reason to think you are any more objective than anybody else here; your assertion that you are seems to be contradicted at every turn.

(My apologies to all for the length of this post, despite leaving out many quotes that would have made it more self-contained. I've attempted to be less longwinded than others here, but unsuccessfully.)

Bentley said...

Steve you may not claim to be a Christian, but you want to appear as coming off as an intellectualized Biblical scholar, your responces are that of an apologetic fundamentalist, that's why your responces are just as we have predicted. In your egocentric mind you think you possess a greater understanding of the Bible other than the typical fundy, this would make you appear in your mind, that you hold a greater understanding of the Bible, more so than the typical christian or exchristian.

Therefore in your mind, you're satisfied that you have a declaration of superior knowledge that only you can decipher and justify as being your wisdom.

Much as you try to appear superiorly intelligent, above a Christian, you come off as a Hell scared little Christian Choir Boy, this makes all Christians predictable to their premeditated apololgetic answers.

And thanks for unknowingly proving my point!

.:webmaster:. said...

My hats off to Jim Arvo for once again displaying the patience of a saint coupled with impeccable logic.

My only comment or question to Steven would be, "What's the point?"

What message are you trying to get across, Steven? Succinct transparency generally expedites discussion, whatever the topic.

boomSLANG said...

My hats off to Jim Arvo for once again displaying the patience of a saint coupled with impeccable logic.

Yeah, I readily admit I need some work in the patience dept. Hmmm......maybe I'll submit my anti-testimony?....yeah, yeah... so that way I can just refer Christians...or wait, so that way I can refer *pro-Christian-doctrine people who are non-Christian to my anti-testimony whenever they come in here and try to lovingly win me back to the Holy Bible.

Gosh, I'm feeling a bit timid right now---but if I might be so bold as to ask---wouldn't it be erroneous to think of an alleged universal/objective Truth™ as only partially true?(this is a question to anybody, BTW) Nonetheless, even considering my "ignorance" and whatever "bias" I may have---I think it would be erroneous to think that way. I mean, we're talking about a document "inspired" by an "all-knowing", "omnipresent", and "just" being. And just to be crystal clear---I certainly hope no one gets this confused with me saying that because not all of said Holy document is "truth", that people can't subjectively find things that are good and apply it to humanity. I'm saying that not even Christians can agree on what verses are "wisdom", and which are not, so why should we even begin to think of said document as a universal Truth™? In conjunction with that---I'm also saying that whatever "wisdom" can be found and agreed upon, is very basic and is no astonishing disclosure to humanity. Thanks for listening.

*whoops!...I didn't ask for permission to use "bold", I hope I haven't upset the gods. lol

Alan said...

Steven:

You don't bring anything new to the table, except perhaps your distinctive writing style. Intelligent design is not a viable scientific theory. The supporting evidence is not credible, there are only a small number of papers on the subject and they have not led to any serious research, one of the founders of the ID movement, Phillip Johnson, has admitted that ID is not about science, and since ID is going nowhere in the scientific community advocates have to claim that they are being persecuted by "Darwinists" in order to maintain their following.

There is a world of evidence to support atheism, for example the billions of prayers uttered daily that go unanswered. Scientific studies such as the Harvard study show that prayer has no effect, and there are no documented cases of the laws of physics being altered due to divine intervention. If you can devise a legitimate scientific experiment that proves the existence of God the world will beat a path to your door.

There is some truth in the Bible, namely the parts that call on man to behave fairly and ethically. The parts that describe a God-driven created universe with its heaven and hell cannot be verified, make little sense, and are often contradictory. You can argue that life was created but the creator has since moved on and does not interact with our world, but without any evidence its just a nice idea that doesn't get you anywhere.

Steven said...

Boomslang, I am far more lenient and forgiving than the gods, I assure you! And I apologize if anything which I had written offended you. I think you raise excellent points consistently here on this site, and I do not think your personality, which shows through your arguments, should be stifled, except perhaps where it is especially sharp, and therefore might lead one to respond solely to that “affect,” and not according to your facts.

Thank you again, Jim, for your careful and complete reply. For the purpose of saving time and space (of course, perhaps this is scientifically impossible), I would like to summarize each point you had made as point 1, 2, etc. instead of pasting its entirety.

Point 1: I agree with your assertions, however where bias is perceived in any response, there is always found with it, an emotionally charged sentiment. These are not found to ever be inseparable when examining the arguments of those who hold to one biased view or another, and especially those who hold to a religious system, as you assert. Therefore, when confronted with this, it is logical to conclude some form of bias, even if only in that moment of impatience. And yes, I still assert this to be a “most telling sign.”

Point 2: An objective observer could also be one who neither holds to one or the other views of two conflicting parties, and therefore can assess the facts more easily than one who does. As I do not have any negative sentiments towards those who uphold or repudiate Christianity, nor regarding the tenants found within the system itself (however illogical many of them are), and because I neither can label myself among the “ex-Christians,” nor among the “Christians,” I have decided myself most likely to be the more objective in my stance concerning these issues. I suppose you may regard this as impropriety, to which I can only offer the sentiment that I sincerely hope not. Although, it is true that at one point in my life I had viewed the Christian religion to offer the most logical worldview, it did not last so very long, and I harbor no feelings of resentment at all for it.

Point 3: Concerning whether or not I had grounds for basing my conclusion on some 30 replies made by various ex-Christians here, instead of on, I assume you would think, hundreds, is neither here nor there. The point is that those so accused should have provided ample proof to the contrary, but instead attacked me for what they thought I was promulgating, namely Christian theology. Furthermore, now that I have had the time to read many more posts, I still find my initial perception to be accurate, and so must repeat:

“It is my opinion that whoever is commenting against another's religious perspective should do so with the utmost respect and even with a sense of temerity, not so much for the subject matter, proofs, etc. of the proponent of such a system, but for the psychological state of that individual. The recklessness I have observed through reading these posts is excessive. Arrogance, slander, absolute incredulity, and an overall presence of biased determination to "shoot full of holes" another's perspective, is hardly the presence of maturity required for such a discussion. The obvious lack of self-control in these matters would only lead an objective observer to conclude that the anti-Christians here need desperately to adhere to "Christian" principles in their dealings with others, and especially those of another "faith." The Bible states that, "Wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, willing to yield, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality and without hypocrisy." Good diplomacy, such as that stated above, yields the most gain in any discussion.”

Perhaps one of the more recent articles entitled, “Jesus… F*** you!” proves my point more directly.

Point 4: Truly, the concept of opinion is quite vague, and in reality, there is no such thing as “absolute fact,” as there are so many variables which go into a proof, as to at some point render it imperfect and incomplete, although certainly not unreliable. The common opinion that one and one is two, can be argued to be only a theoretical approximate, and that nothing in nature has such a semblance; the opinion that ice is frozen water is an oversimplification, and at the atomic level, we are still uncertain as to what exactly is happening. Is this absurdly skeptical reasoning? Yes! If I were to hold to the disparity to such an extent as to contend with anyone who uses the terms “one” and “ice.” However I use this to illustrate the point that when arriving at any conclusion, we ought to still maintain some sense of incredulity, and not use our most probable conclusions to belittle the conclusions of others, but rather, that we should with empathy, sound reason, and even indefatigable patience (especially when you are given any space of time to consider a written reply), contend for the truth. Is this not the point I have been making from the outset? How then has this subject gotten so convoluted, but by those unwilling to accept this as a sound admonition?

Point 5: I believe you assertion that this statement is “emotionally charged,” lies in the use of several terms. These include, “immature,” “arrogant,” “absolutist,” and “condescending.” Now, by implication, are you then saying that by my use of these four, I was being “emotional,” and so biased? I must disagree, as I have a very logical basis for drawing these conclusions. There was no more, “emotion,” attached to these terms than any other that I believed to accurately depict someone’s stance when arguing a point. These terms best describe those who habitually use sarcasm and insults, as well as those who ignore anything good that the opposing side has to offer.

“Let's be concrete. I assert that the Bible is filled with mythical motifs, some very likely adapted from more ancient religions (e.g. slaughter of the innocents, turning water into wine, human-divine unions). It also contains copyist errors, copyist redactions, midrash, forgeries, and interpolations. Each of these I can support with rational argument. I think they are sufficiently established that it is rational to use them as premises in a larger argument, such as asserting that the Bible is not the inerrant word of anyone, let alone an omnipotent being. Is that being absolutist or condescending?”

I agree with your conclusion and your criteria for arriving there, but yes, it is being absolutist and condescending to present this idea to religious adherents in such a way as to insult their intelligence, often sarcastically, and further not advocating the positive aspects of the Bible’s teachings. However, one area of error on my part was in casting a generalization on all of those posting messages as not advocating any of the sound wisdom which the Bible provides. Thank you for this correction, and I admit that a more accurate statement would be to say “most all.” But tell me something, would you be willing to post an article here which expounds the great wisdom found in the Bible, and advocates adhering to it, as to any wisdom? Or is, “Jesus, F*** you!” the only type of ridiculous article you would want to allow?

Points 6 and 8: Even Boomslang appears to agree that her particular disposition is more closely in line with the term “anti-Christian,” and I am still waiting to hear why you believe most of those here do not fall more accurately under such a label. “Ex” is passive, and “anti,” is active, which is precisely what all of the rhetoric here contains, and active stance and attack on the principles of Christianity. Furthermore, I certainly did respond to your direct criticism, as follows:

“However, this does not, as I see it, make my previous comments unjust or inaccurate, simply because I had directed them mostly towards the ex-Christians, although you are right to assert they were arbitrary, that is, within the boundaries of my own judgment I had decided to direct them thus. The reasons for this are several, and were stated in part already in my previous post. Firstly, those who hold to the Christian perspective are on the defensive altogether, and that of the ex-Christian’s, offensive, therefore the greater responsibility lies with the latter to take care as to the psychological implications their words will have upon the former, especially when considering the fact that all of these came from the same background of sorts, and so these ought the more to show the utmost empathy for their opponent’s current state-of-mind. Unfortunately, I have not found such maturity in their words, such maturity which the Bible often advocates, for example, “The servant of our Lord must not quarrel, but be gentle, apt at teaching, patient; with humility correcting those in opposition.” Oh, what inroads would be made into the minds of those who adhere to this faith, and what avoidance of so common a defense mechanism, which naturally springs forth when one’s core beliefs are attacked with proud condescension, if only those who hold a closer semblance to the truth were also wise enough to attain to Socratic humility…”

You initiated the conflict by setting up a site which attempts to refute the religious system of Christianity, and at that, with the use of words and images that you knew would incite them. Saying then that because they came to your site and began defending their views and proselytizing makes them the aggressors here is to me an erroneous conclusion. Such bias is inherent in this perspective.

Whether or not I am “hurling unwarranted accusations and thinly veiled insults,” is your welcomed opinion, although I believe false.

Point 7: Steven: "“Anti-Christian” appears more accurate to me,...."

That speaks to a mental state that you are not privy to, and it conflates opposing a philosophical position (Christianity) with opposing its adherents (Christians).

Actually, such mental state becomes evident through discourse, as the webmaster has so eloquently noted above, “Succinct transparency generally expedites discussion, whatever the topic.”

Point 9: I find that we agree here, except in regards to this statement: “I do not think I bear any responsibility for someone's mental state simply because they hold a belief about which I an skeptical, which they find disturbing.”

This would be true, except for the active stance which the “ex-Christians” take in actively attacking the views of the above. Here, where active rebuttal is submitted to another’s religious adherence, it must be done so with utmost care, not only for the sake of the one (who was like yourselves), but also for the sake of the argument, that it not be brought down to the level of base name calling and sarcasm.

I am confused, however, as to how your parable of the aliens refutes my above assertion. Perhaps you could clarify this for me.

“For this reason, when a Christian posts here in a manner that is reasonably polite, and they show the slightest interest in actually discussing rather than proselytizing, I go out of my way to be polite in return. To me, that is an opportunity to glimpse another world view, and possibly to learn something. It's also a way to lessen the divide that separates the religious and the non-religious.”

Excellent. I hope this becomes the norm here.

“However, my patience has often been worn thin, and the limits of my tolerance tested by people who simply cannot grant that decent people might disagree with them on matters of theology. In those cases, I feel no compunction in being less polite.”

What a shame! Then you will only continue to receive the same in return.

Point 10: I still do not believe it would be good to entertain all of the tangents we might take regarding your three assertions. I have agreed with them, and do not wish to overcomplicate an already complicated discussion. If you still insist, ask me please once more and I will. Also, I accept your decline to answer my question, and understand your reasoning for such.

Point 11: Steven: “I thoroughly understand your position on my statement, although, as asked parenthetically before, what other conclusion can be drawn?"

I can't help but ask "Is that a trick question?" Put plainly, your sweeping conclusion about people here being hasty in dismissing everything in the Bible is unwarranted, so you needn't draw it at all. If you were really interested in whether that was true (rather than casting aspersions), you could have tried posing the question "Do you believe everything in the Bible is wrong?" I, for one, would have quickly answered "No."

I must say that my position is not altogether unwarranted, in that I have encountered perhaps some of the most hostile persons I have ever met regarding their contention with Christianity, which of course, only clouds the issues. Although, I agree that your suggestion of a better question is correct, and that would have been a wiser path to take.

Point 12: Steven: "I have not seen one position advocated on this site which holds that the Bible does contain some very excellent wisdom..."

”Then you've not looked very hard. And even if it were true that no such statements are posted here, it still does not follow that we have dismissed everything, hastily or otherwise.”

Whether or not you believe I have “looked very hard,” is irrelevant to what I consistently found, and continue to find, concerning scores of posts, all of which are impugnable in nature, and which ignore any idea of the Bible containing excellent wisdom (except, by your admission some of yours, which I have yet to read. The ones by you that I have read, have only followed the same train of argumentation and slander as others, though I admit to a lesser degree).

Point 13: I have read perhaps a dozen or more of Boomslang’s posts, and although I appreciate your defense of her, I can, at your request (although I would also require her’s), provide numerous examples which validate my claims.

Point 14: Again, I have never read anything by Boomslang that would lead me to think otherwise, nor did she ever affirm to have done so, thus correcting me, in her direct dialogue with me above. Although I do admit she has brought some excellent points to the table.

“In summary, there is very little we agree upon, even (apparently) some very basic guidelines for how to conduct a civil and meaningful discussion. Frankly, I'm extremely put off by your thinly-veiled attacks; I see them as being no more honorable than blatant name-calling. In fact, in some ways I find it more loathsome, as it purports to be something it is not; i.e. civil. Finally, I see no reason to think you are any more objective than anybody else here; your assertion that you are seems to be contradicted at every turn.”

I am indeed sorry that you have so soon arrived at such a conclusion; however, I respect your opinion thus. Your repugnance of my statements and me has all along been evident, and I certainly will not hold it against you if you choose to cease any direct dialogue. You are welcome, and shall receive no resistance on my part, to classify me as an “uncivil” critic.

boomSLANG said...

Steve: Even Boomslang appears to agree that her particular disposition is more closely in line with the term “anti-Christian,”

Not that it's relevant, Steve..... but keeping in line with the wisdom in the bible, I'm the same gender as that disembodied self-existant spirit known as the "the first cause". And just so we're on the same page---Jesus' dad does have "male" anatomy, right? I mean, if we look to the Holy Bible for answers, "G_D" is continually refered to as a "He", so I'm sure you're prepared to give me "kudos" for doing what you required of me---that is, finding wisdom in the Bible.(Your welcome, in advance)

BTW, I thought I conceded to being anti-Christianity, not "anti-Christian", no? Nonetheless, I don't think they are always mutually inclusive, are they?...I mean, certainly you wouldn't generalize by asserting that all ex-wives are anti-male, right? 'Hope not = )

J. C. Samuelson said...

Steven,

I fear I don't have time to give this a full treatment just now, but for starters...

To come straight to the point, I understand your complaint. However, I can't help but think you've misunderstood the purpose of this site. Furthermore, peaceful discourse is a fine ideal but when people are discussing matters of faith it is nearly inevitable that emotions will come into play. Deeply held beliefs often run straight to the core of our self-perception, and cannot be entirely divorced from subjectivity.

For the past several posts your main contention is that we ex-Christians should adopt a less confrontational mode of discussion with our Christian visitors. That is, we should treat our Christian visitors with "kid gloves." I disagree for several reasons, though I'll explain only a couple.

First, the Site Purpose and Disclaimer quite clearly states that the site "exists for the express purpose of encouraging those who have decided to leave religion behind. It is not an open challenge to Christians to avenge what they perceive as an offense against their invisible friend." In a very real sense this is like a support group for those who have left the Christian faith. Thus, visitors are naturally exposed to materials that treat that religion with hostility.

Imagine if a company exec for Phillip Morris were to visit a Smoker's Anonymous meeting touting the benefits of smoking, or an Anheuser-Busch representative chose to market his product to recovering alcoholics. As one might imagine, the meeting attendees would very likely be hostile to these inconsiderate interlopers, and they should be. Put in that perspective, would you still insist that those who visit our site with the express purpose to proselytize should expect a warm welcome?

Second, this site was not set up as a forum for intellectual or formal debate. The rules of decorum that regularly govern that type of debate do not apply here. There is a forum site (see ex-christian.net) in which interested parties can do just that. Yes, it does sometimes happen here as well, and sometimes the participants are able to keep their emotions in check so the discussion might be fruitful. Jim Arvo is particularly good at it (and his eloquence here is unmatched), but many of us do try to be polite. As Jim mentioned, however, our patience is often strained to the breaking point. That there is a breaking point might be a matter for lament, but we are only human. In any case, the vast majority of our Christian visitors do not visit us for the purpose of exchanging ideas. They come to evangelize, and fail to recognize that for many of us such an approach is patently offensive, regardless of whatever good intentions they may have.

Moving on...

"I have decided myself most likely to be the more objective in my stance concerning these issues. I suppose you may regard this as impropriety, to which I can only offer the sentiment that I sincerely hope not."

This is an extremely arrogant presumption on your part, and thick with condescension. You may not agree with the format or even the positions held by many of our regulars, yet you are willing to set yourself up as the arbiter of objectivity. Being human, you are full of biases and misperceptions yourself. Though you may not have a theological axe to grind when it comes to Christianity or ex-Christianity, that does not mean you are objective.

"But tell me something, would you be willing to post an article here which expounds the great wisdom found in the Bible, and advocates adhering to it, as to any wisdom? Or is, “Jesus, F*** you!” the only type of ridiculous article you would want to allow?"

Given the context of the website you're not likely to read an article that advocates the Bible as a positive piece of literature. People here are trying to escape from Christianity, not learn a new way to accept its teachings. At this point I have to ask, have you read any of the testimonies? Also, as Jim pointed out the pearls of wisdom that can be extracted from the Bible are not exclusive to its pages.

More to say about this but I'm rapidly running out of time.

"You initiated the conflict by setting up a site which attempts to refute the religious system of Christianity, and at that, with the use of words and images that you knew would incite them. Saying then that because they came to your site and began defending their views and proselytizing makes them the aggressors here is to me an erroneous conclusion. Such bias is inherent in this perspective."

Is setting up a website "initiating conflict?" If so, perhaps you should post a similar opinion on any of the millions of Christian websites. This one tiny little corner of the web, and we're the one's initiating conflict? They come to our site, assert the reality of their God and the authority of the Bible, often casting aspersions on the character of some of our posters without knowing anything about them and they are on the defensive? Surely you can see how ridiculous that sounds.

As for the site's purpose, follow the link I provided in the first few paragraphs.

There is more I'd like to address but now I'm out of time.

Jim Arvo said...

Hi J. C. Samuelson,

I just thought I'd complement you on your consistent even-handedness. It's something I strive for, but often do not achieve (contrary to your kind remarks above). Yet, you seem to hit the mark each time.

This reminds me of a comparison I can't help but make, almost daily, between apologetics and "rationalism", for want of a better term. I read a lot of Christian apologetics (for reasons I won't try to articulate here), which is frequently a taxing mental exercise as it requires a bit of "gymnastics" to temporarily overlook the unsupported assertions and the circular reasoning. When I then switch to reading something without the all dogmatic baggage, it's like plopping into an easy chair. When you don't fight logic, but use it as a guide, everything flows nicely and seems to fall into place with comparatively little effort; you needn't be constantly looking over your shoulder or patching up embarrassing bits with ever-widening apologetics. Anyway, that's all by way of saying that your posts have an "naturalness" that comes from respecting reason while disregarding, or at least downplaying, all the inflammatory stuff. Well done.

J. C. Samuelson said...

Jim,

Thanks for the compliment! However, it was your example that I've sought to emulate ever since I began frequenting this site a couple years ago. No, I'm not kidding, or trying to stroke your ego.

It's been hard for me to learn to give any ground in my own head to those who hold to untenable positions. It was your writing that helped me realize that one can agree with and/or concede some points without giving in, and to ruthlessly edit my own posts so as to be as succinct as possible (I can be extremely long-winded).

I think we agree that, as difficult as it is sometimes, it's sometimes more effective to keep one's cool. Having said that, I have to admit that I also like boomSLANG's style. :) I'm just not good at that approach.

Ok, I'm done with the off-topic 'love-in.' Hope everyone is having a great week!

Anonymous said...

"There are no absolute truths." Is itself an absolute.

I am learning life, whether anybody would like to prove to me with their extreme intelligence that their point is right then by all means rip me to shreds.

It seems like more a question of what is the most amazing way to live life. It experience and enjoy it.

What?

Asking questions is a very good thing and I will never stop in my questions.

And I think this Jesus fellow has something quite interesting to say.

So test it, test what He says, look at the original translation of what He actually said and the possibilites of what He says are very different than how they are usually interpreted.

I am still searching, I DON"T KNOW everything about life, but I'm gonna find out.

Maybe if we stopped spending our lives in argument about who has the right way to live and instead live and invite people to live that way by their own desire, than I will.

Go ahead, please.

Let me know how I am wrong.

But I would rather live to enjoy life and let others experience the same than live in a retreat of a wall of beliefs I'm defending.

I am human, which means I want to be right.
But because I am human also means I am usually wrong.

And so I will learn.

And if I decide to not take what I have learned and apply it to my life, than I could be restricting myself to more pain.

If I look outside of myself, than I have done more than what many have not.

Enjoy life.

Dave8 said...

Anony, 11/09/2006 12:54 AM, just what was that all about? There's a question. Were you just throwing out a diatribe? What was the focus? Is there a point that you wanted to make somwehere in all of that?

Anonymous said...

your very correct...and of course i do see the typical xtian response on the board(you have no understanding of the bible)..

lets use common sense...The stories of the Bible evolved slowly over centuries before the existence of orthodox religions. Many belief cults spread stories and myths handed down by oral tradition from generation to generation before people wrote them down.Many of the stories originally came from Egyptian and Sumerian cults. All of these early religions practiced polytheism, including the early Hebrews. Some of the oldest records of the stories that later entered the Old Testament came from thousands of small cylinder seals depicting creation stories, excavated from the Mesopotamia period. These early artifacts and artworks (dated as early as 2500 B.C.E.) established the basis for the Garden of Eden stories a least a thousand years before it impacted Hebrew mythology.
Virtually every human civilization in the Middle East, before and through Biblical times, practiced some form of female goddess worship. Archeologists have confirmed that the earliest law, government, medicine, agriculture, architecture, metallurgy, wheeled vehicles, ceramics, textiles and written language had initially developed in societies that worshiped the Goddess. Later the goddesses became more war-like with the influence of the northern invaders who slowly replaced the goddesses with their mountain male war gods.
So why doesn't the Bible mention anything about the Goddess? In fact it does, but in disguise from converting the name of the goddesses to masculine terms. Many times "Gods" in the Bible refers to goddesses. Ashtoreth, or Asherah, named of masculine gender, for example, actually refers to Astarte- the Great Goddess. The Old Testament doesn't even have a word for Goddess. The goddesses, sometimes, refers to the Hebrew word "Elohim" (masculine plural form) which later religionists mistranslated into the singular "God."
The Bible authors converted the ancient goddess symbols into icons of evil. As such, the snake, serpents, tree of knowledge, horns (of the bull), became associated with Satan. The end result gave women the status of inferiority, a result which we still see to this day.
The Old Testament consists of a body of literature spread over a period from approximately 1450 B.C.E. to 200 B.C.E. There exists NO ORIGINAL writings of the Old Testament.ONLY COPIES OF COPIES.
The New Testament has even fewer surviving texts. Scholars think that not until years after Jesus' alleged death that its authors wrote the Gospels. There exists no evidence that the New Testament came from the purported original apostles or anyone else that had seen the alleged Jesus. Although the oldest surviving Christian texts came from Paul(SAUL), he had never seen the earthly Jesus.
Many other Christians also wrote mystical stories and by the second century there existed more than a dozen Gospels, along with a whole library of other texts. These include letters of Jesus to foreign kings, letters of Paul to Aristotle, and histories of the disciples. In one of these secret Gospels, it describes Jesus taking naked young men off to secret initiation rites in the Garden of Gethsemene.
There lived Christian Gnostics (knowers) who believed that the church itself derived from the Devil to keep man from God and from realizing his true nature. In those first centuries of Christianity orthodoxy did not exist and when an organized orthodox church finally came, it got defined, almost inadvertently, in argument against many of the Gnostic sects.
So the idea of the Bible as a single, sacred unalterable corpus of texts began in heresy and later extended and used by churchmen in their efforts to define orthodoxy. One of the Bible's most influential editors, Irenaeus of Lyon, decided that there should only exist four Gospels like the four zones of the world, the four winds, the four divisions of man's estate, and the four forms of the first living creatures - the lion of Mark, the calf of Luke, the man of Matthew, and the eagle of John. In a single stroke, Irenaeus had delineated the sacred book of the Christian church and left out the other Gospels. Irenaeus also wrote what Christianity did not include, and in this way Christianity became an orthodox faith. A work of Irenaeus, Against the Heresies, became the starting point for later inquisitions.

The salvation doctrines of Christianity survived and flourished because they afforded the priesthood considerable power. The priests alone held the keys to salvation and could threaten the unbelievers with eternal punishment. Hence, in the evolution of Christianity in the last two thousand years with priests preying on human fears, the religion has demonstrated extraordinary powers of survival. Even without the priests, the various versions of the Bible have had more influence on the history of the world, in the minds of men than any other literature.
Unfortunately, the beliefs in Scripture produced the most violent actions against man in the history of humanity up to that time. The burning of competing Christian cults (called heretics) by early Christian churches acted as the seeds of violent atrocities against man. There later followed the destruction of Rome by the Christian Goths, and the secret pagan sacrifices consented by the Pope, the Vandals that had the Bible with them as they destroyed imperial North Africa, the crusades in the eleventh century fighting in the lands around the eastern Mediterranean, Palestine and Syria, capturing Jerusalem and setting kingdoms from Anatolia to the Egyptian border. In 1204 the Fourth Crusade plundered Constantinople the most holy city at that time, with Christians fighting Christians. And the slaughters continued (and continues to this day). According to Romer, More heretics and scholars were burned in the Middle Ages(((BY THE CHURCH))) than were ever killed in Carolingian times. For at this time the Inquisition came into its own, and torture, largely unused as an instrument of government since Roman days, was reintroduced.
We have little reason to think that violence inspired by Bibles and other religious texts will ever cease. One only has to look at the religious wars around the world to see belief's everlasting destructive potential. One only has to look at the Protestant-Catholic uprising in Ireland, the conflicts in the middle east with Jews fighting Moslems & Christians, the Gulf war, Sudan's civil war between Christians and Islamics, the Bosnia conflicts, and the war in Iraq. The desperate acts of fanatical individuals who have killed for their beliefs of Jesus, Mohammed, God or Satan would create a death list unmatched by any other method in history. The "Holy" Bible supports the notion of war and destruction, not only as a prophesy but as a moral necessity. If we wish to become a peaceful species, it may well serve us to understand the forces of belief that keep us in continual conflict and why the Bible has such a stronghold on the minds of people around the world.

THE CREATOR IS REAL,BUT YOUR INTERPRETATION IS FALSE...

boomSLANG said...

All that?...just to presuppose a "CREATOR"? You've been reading too much Zecharia Sitchin. lol. WHAT "creator"?

Steven said...

I do not mean to distract from the above, but i would only like to tell those with whom i was in discussion before, that i concede the argument to you, and to add that i very much enjoyed it--thanks!

Parker Adams said...

Just wanted to drop a note to say I found this today and I'm trying to follow these arguments. Very wordy, back and forth. I'll do my best to keep up. Veeery cool site overall. The fact that this discussion is still being rolled around today is probably the most interesting part (it all started in 2002, right?) wow. I can't believe this blog has been actively arguing (rhetorical discourse, not blood and teeth) since my wedding. wow again. time to keep reading....

Anonymous said...

To Dan Barker:
I am a Christian. But before you go, I have one question to answer ALL of your questions. How can you believe that all the material in the universe was compacted into a dot smaller than one on this blog?or, how come Venus is spinning backwards in our solar system. Either would be great to have an answer to.

Anonymous said...

To Dan Barker:
I am a Christian. But before you go, I have one question to answer ALL of your questions. How can you believe that all the material in the universe was compacted into a dot smaller than one on this blog?or, how come Venus is spinning backwards in our solar system. Either would be great to have an answer to.

Dave8 said...

Anony: "...I am a Christian. But before you go, I have one question to answer ALL of your questions. How can you believe that all the material in the universe was compacted into a dot smaller than one on this blog?or, how come Venus is spinning backwards in our solar system. Either would be great to have an answer to."

To Anonymous: I am a not a Christian. But before you go, I have one question to answer ALL of your questions. How can you believe that all the material in the universe was compacted into a dot smaller than one on this blog... so small, that it actually disappeared into the supernatural/immaterial realm of non-existence? or, how come the Earth is spinning backwards in our solar system. Either would be great to have an answer to.

Jim Arvo said...

Hi there Anonymous,

I'm sure you realize that Dan Barker is not frequenting this thread, so I'd like to step in and answer your questions.

1) You asked "How can you believe that all the material in the universe was compacted into a dot..."

The short answer is that it's predicted by a mathematical model that accords with myriad observations. Colliders have been used to simulate extraordinarily high energies (think of it as high temperature & pressure), and it appears that the fundamental forces unify at sufficiently high energies, and matter assumes a very different state, which is even more compressed than that of a neutron star or a black hole. Let me put it another way: It's a reasonable theory based on solid evidence. If it happens to conflict with your intuition about how matter behaves, then I suggest you first make some observations of matter at a few billion electron volts. Things are a little different that what you're accustomed to.

2) You also asked "...how come Venus is spinning backwards in our solar system."

This is a very common creationist "puzzle." It is sometimes claimed that this state of affairs contradicts conservation of angular momentum, and therefore indicates a supernatural force. But that's rather like claiming that finding an extra dollar bill in your wallet is evidence of a supreme being; that is, it posits a fantastic explanation for something that is completely mundane. In fact, retrograde rotations and "tilted" planes of rotation are quite trivial to explain. Different planetary systems spin in different planes and rotate in different directions, as one would expect by conservation of angular momentum. When a star explodes, or otherwise loses a planet by some other means, that planet can be caught by the gravitational pull of another star. It would be quite remarkable if the orbit of the newly-captured planet always matched those of the existing planets. Hence, "anomalies" such as Venus are to be expected.

I hope that helps.

Dave8 said...

Anony, your questions have received quality answers already, but here are a few things to ponder, while you are attempting to master the universe.

1-How can you believe that all the material in the universe was compacted into a dot smaller than one on this blog?

The same way I can believe the question you ask unveils your most tyros understanding of physics. The invariant mass of a photon is "zero", and doesn't exist as matter. Does that mean it doesn't exist? No, it does exist; else you wouldn't be able to observe this comment.

2-Why does Venus rotate in reverse?
Orbital mechanics:
--Venus originally rotated in an anticlockwise direction like most other planets in this solar system, less Uranus.
--Venus' rotation speed was decreased over a billion years, as it sledged through its dense atmospheric viscosity.
--Venus lost rotational speed, as it lost rotational speed the core magnetosphere weakened.
--Venus was then hit with a major impact event.
--Venus, in its slowed rotational state and weakened magnetosphere, was hit at an angle that altered its rotational spin.
--Venus to this day, has the slowest rotational rate per any major planet.

Anony, you pose the questions, to attempt to make a point - that all unanswerable questions are equal. Your facile point ignores the difference between an answerable question, and an unanswerable question.

Religions create questions that can't be answered, and if they were ever answered, there would be less the need for religion.

Therefore, you worship and relish in your ignorance, and the plethora of unanswerable questions.

Science, attempts to provide answers, to answerable questions. Its not a matter of rhetoric, its a matter of intent. The "intent" of religion is to remove the ability of a person to find answers; the "intent" of science is to equip a person with the tools to find answers.

We model reality, there anony, we create the outline of a jigsaw puzzle, and then we watch to see if the pieces that come by, fit, if pieces start to fall into place, and we start to see a picture form, we can call that design a useful tool that can be used in this material existence.

Religion doesn’t create such a tool, it creates a pattern, where nothing in this universe can fit, the picture can never be started, all you have is a "shell", without any color or starting point.

Anonymous said...

So Mister Barker, Do you consider yourself an Athiest or is there some other form of religion you believe in? Just curious.

Anonymous said...

I wasn't going to get involved in this pipsqueek comment that seems to be the christian response to life - all is religion. If a person paints rocks for a living, the christian believes the person has a rock painting religion, etc. That's what happens when someone has limited visibility, so shallow, and so sad.

Here is a test for you, close your eyes and forget about your religion, what do you have left - nothing, right - you are religion. However, there are those who believe they are "more" that just a religious pawn/minion, and thus life becomes more.

Anonymous said...

It's not about Religion, religion is a bunch of rules that you have to try to live up to. It's about a relationship with Jesus, I can't make anyone believe in something, but I know what I believe and what I've experienced. Jesus came and offered Grace, not a set of rules to follow. You'll never be perfect and i think a huge problem with Christianity is that people including ourselves expect us to be perfect and we aren't we're going to fail that is why there is grace. I see this page and it breaks my heart, my Jesus is being slandered and lied about. I love him, he is everything to me. I've never been more secure than when i decided to follow Jesus, he speaks. Ask him to. He wants to reveal himself to you. He does. I am so sick of Christians that spread their religion. Jesus wants a relationship with you. He wants to speak to you because he isn't dead, he is alive! Christians in America have done a horrible job of representing Jesus. At my church I have an incredible community where I don't have to feel lonely and they know me inside and out and I can trust them so much. Having lived in both sides, not believing and then believing, there is nothing I would rather believe. I'm so sad He has been so misrepresnted because Christians in America have become lazy, self seeking and comfortable with thier lives. I want to apologize for the American Christians that have so misrepresented who Jesus is. I can't reverse what they've done or how they have treated yall or make you believe anything, but I do apologize and He'll speak if you ask him to.

.:webmaster:. said...

"It's about a relationship with Jesus"

Really? Please quote the Bible verse that says Christianity is not a religion, but is a relationship with Jesus.

I'll wager you can't find anything in the Bible that says that.

Anonymous said...

For your sake you'd better hope you're right...

.:webmaster:. said...

Yes, yes... Jesus loves me, but if I don't love him back... WHAM!

kls said...

"You asked me to consider Christianity as the answer for my life."

Hey, Webmaster! Have you ever really been a christian?

Christianity isn´s and can be an answer for any life. Christ IS the answer. Man, you have a lot of free time to waste.

Astreja said...

kls, it's your business if you want to waste your life worshipping an invisible guy who supposedly had himself killed so that he could forgive people for something he tricked two other (probably imaginary) people into doing thousands of years ago.

I want something more for my life, namely reason and sanity.

As for your comment "Webmaster, were you ever really, really, reeeeally a Christian?" all I have to say is "How fucking dare you." If you had read WM's ex-timonies you would already know that he spent an enormous chunk of his life (30 years, IIRC) as a believer.

May you follow the same path as us, and come to realize that your religion is both harmful and a complete waste of precious living time.

kls said...

I agree with you "godess". Religion is a wasting time and it is harmful. What I say is that Christ is NOT. But this is a saying for mature people and not for "gods".

kls

Astreja said...

Hi, kls. I see you took the time to click on my profile. (Pity that you were unable to spell "goddess" correctly, though, even when it was right there in front of you. But I digress.)

Here's where I stand on the whole matter.

I know that I exist, inasomuch as one is capable of "knowing" anything.

However, I have never experienced anything that pointed uniquely to this "Jesus" that you speak of.

I think that gods are possible. Heck, over the past twenty years or so, at least half a dozen people have called *Me* one. And it accords with my ancestors' beliefs that we are the descendants of the gods (and therefore gods Ourselves).

However, even if it were proven to exist, I doubt that I could bring myself to worship the god of the bible. The Bible portrays this being as a jealous, egotistical, bloodthirsty maniac who likes to kill, kill, kill.

I also know that many of the stories in the Bible are reworkings of older stories from Eastern Mesopotamia. The Flood story is an older story with "Atrahasis" scratched out and "Noah" written in in crayon. And somehow the god El (a rather decent chap, IMO) got squished together with his not-so-nice son Yahweh to create a thoroughly unpalatable entity with a severe split personality.

Enjoy your belief in Jesus, whoever or whatever that is to you. But be aware that it is indeed a religion and not a "relationship". And for many people, including most of the regulars at this site, we have found Christianity to be harmful in our lives. Your results may vary, but I hope it isn't because you're wilfully deluding yourself.

keziah said...

webmaster,

1 John 1:3b "..our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son, Jesus Christ."

fellowship = companionship = relationship

In ephesians it says, "for it is by grace you have been saved through faith...not by works."

God shows us grace and love by saving us - he wants to be in fellowship with us. we are not saved by anything else, apart from our faith:

"That if you confess with your mouth "Jesus is Lord" and believe in your heart God raised him from the dead, you will be saved." Romans 10:9

so, God shows he wants a relationship with us by saving us, and if we accept this then we enter into a relationship with God/Jesus. The Ephesians verse shows us that Christianity (simply believing in Jesus and thus being saved, seen in the Romans verse) is not defined by rituals, rules and "works" (which is basically what "religion" means). All it is is being in loving fellowship with God.

kls said...

I´m sorry so much I called you"godess" and not "goddess", goddess. I was not awared you are a descendant of "gods".

I see that everyone on this website is intelligent. Too intelligent. I would like you give me a prove Jesus is not God. Jesus is not the one he claims to be. And well, forgive my English, it´s not my mother´s tongue.

Can´t remember the bloodthirsty, "egotistical" (see you aren´t perfect too :)Jesus killed anyone.

I´m waiting for meaningful prove Jesus is not the one he claims to be. And please do NOT tell me you haven´t seen him therefore he doesn´t exist or you don´t believe the Bible therefore the Bible doesn´t convey the truth.

Jim Arvo said...

Hi there kls,

Unless I'm mistaken, it seems you advocate belief in everything that cannot be disproved. If so, I wish you luck worshiping Allah, Zeus, Mithra, Attis, Adonis, Isis, Osiris, Krishna, Ganesh, etc. etc. That's quite a pantheon you've got there. As for me, I'll stick to those things with credible supporting evidence; it results in a much more manageable pantheon (at present, it has zero members), which leaves more time to do productive things.

Take care.

.:webmaster:. said...

Keziah,

Later the writer of 1 John says: 2:4 "The man who says, "I know him," but does not do what he commands is a liar, and the truth is not in him. 5 But if anyone obeys his word, God's love is truly made complete in him. This is how we know we are in him: 6 Whoever claims to live in him must walk as Jesus did."

Further, the writer of the book of James, purportedly Jesus' physical brother, says: " 1:26 If anyone considers himself religious and yet does not keep a tight rein on his tongue, he deceives himself and his religion is worthless. 27 Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world."

So, without works, faith is dead. And really, faith is a work. If I don't drum up some faith, whatever that is, then I'll be horrifically tortured for all eternity. I have to present a gift of faith in exchange for your god's love. I have to take action. I have to do something. I have to perform. If I don't present this little package of faith, I won't earn salvation.

Besides that, do you have any verifiable evidence that such a being as your god even exists? And, keep in mind that the people who wrote your sacred tome were already believers when they wrote. The entire collection of writings is nothing but a religious apologetic anthology. Why should I invest my "faith" in this religious apologetic anthology over any other religion's apologetic anthology? Why should I accept their propaganda over the propaganda of any other religion?

Back to the point. Christianity is most assuredly a religion. What I took issue with was the poster who claimed that it is NOT a religion, but a relationship. It is most assuredly a religion. And the relational verse you quoted, you quoted out of context. The writer of 1 John is admonishing his readers to have fellowship with him, not Jesus.

"We proclaim to you what we have seen and heard, so that you also may have fellowship with us." He then adds that his fellowship is with HIM and the readers are supposed to get in fellowship with the writer and other leaders. The writer of 1 John appears to me to be setting himself and other leaders up as priests.

keziah said...

webmaster,

okay, so, i think that good works are an important part of the christian life because they should be our response to God saving us. works will not save you, the ephesians vs i quoted makes that clear. Hebrews 12:28 says, "therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken (ie eternal life in heaven), let us be thankful, and so worship God acceptably with reverance and awe" and i think part of this worship includes good works, to show how thankful we are that God has saved us.
The person who says that they are a christian but does not let this fact show in their day-to-day lives i dont think has truly understood God's grace. To truly understand his grace and his mercy and how much he sacrificed so that we could have hope, this would show in how a person responds to the gospel. a christian should be doing works (although these are not ESSENTIAL for salvation). s/he should want to being doing works.
that issue is a bit tricky though, i remember talking to a guy about a year ago who said he was a christian - he said he believed in God and trusted in him and believed that Jesus died for his sins, etc. but i never would have guessed that from the way he lived. so he is saved? i guess he is.....i dont know everything about God. sometimes i get stumped on an issue and dont really know what to think about it. i'm sorry if i havent asnwered your question!

and about the 1 john verse, you are right, i took it out of context, sorry!! hmmm, it was quite late when i was posting that comment...

and about what you said, christianity being a religious apologetic anthology, i had to look that up. and i'm still a little unsure.....would you be able to explain what you mean by that??

and about the religion vs relationship thing, and also the other faith stuff, i will try to get back to you on that soon. i will have to think some more about what to write!

Astreja said...

kls: " I´m sorry so much I called you"godess" and not "goddess", goddess. I was not awared you are a descendant of "gods".Hey, no problem.

I see that everyone on this website is intelligent. Too intelligent.

Personally, I don't think there is such a thing as "too" intelligent.

Can´t remember the bloodthirsty, "egotistical" (see you aren´t perfect too :) Jesus killed anyone.

Well, for the sake of simplicity we won't count the fig tree as a "kill". However, if Jesus and the Biblical god are the same being, then Jesus would be responsible for such atrocities as the Noachide flood and the murder of Amakelite infants.

I´m waiting for meaningful prove Jesus is not the one he claims to be. And please do NOT tell me you haven´t seen him therefore he doesn´t exist or you don´t believe the Bible therefore the Bible doesn´t convey the truth.

kls, I don't know if such proof is available. Proving the nonexistence of something is not as neat and tidy as proving that something does exist. If a unicorn walks into the room and starts talking to you, you would probably believe that unicorns exist. However, if you've never seen one, and nobody you know has ever seen one, it's not unreasonable to withhold belief in unicorns till one shows up and says "Hi".

This is the critical difference between "unproven" (no proof yet, but some might show up later) and "disproven" (something has been shown to be false).

For the great majority of people, unicorns are unproven.

For me, the god of the Bible is also unproven. It might actually be out there, but I have no personal experience or objective evidence to push me in the direction of belief.

Not that it matters... I rather don't like the Bible's description of what a god is like, and feel no urge to worship such a being.

.:webmaster:. said...

A a collection of writings written for the express purpose of keeping members of a cult from straying from the fold -- to help believers to keep believing -- is what I meant when I said religious, apologetic anthology.

There are many collections of religious writings. Check out the Nag Hammadi library sometime. After you've read from those early Christian writings, explain to me why you believe the works collected in 325 and bound together in the Bible are God's word, but the writings rejected by the Council of Nicaea are not God's word?

I hope you realize that the only reason you think the collected works in the New Testament are divinely inspirited is because a bunch of priests and bishops, at the order of the Emperor of Rome, held a big meeting and voted on what version of Christianity would become the "TRUE" version of Christianity. They voted on what books to include in the New Testament and issued edicts to wipe out and destroy every other competing version of Christianity. And, by the way, there were many other versions, versions which had completely different ideas about who Jesus was and what his role was in Christianity.

Seriously, if you want to keep your faith, avoid studying Christian history or theology. Just stick to the 3rd-grade felt-board version of Christianity, and you'll do just fine. Should you ever deign to educate yourself, you'll find yourself with some hard questions to answer.

Spoomonkey said...

Keziah Wrote: The person who says that they are a christian but does not let this fact show in their day-to-day lives i dont think has truly understood God's grace.

Here is the classic “bait and switch” of Christianity. This is where the whole “it is a ‘free gift’” crap falls apart. Ultimately, a person who has this supposed “relationship” with Jesus is given something that is quite conditional – and in return they are asked to basically give away every part of who they are.

And the Bible is caught in its most vile lie.

Let me give you a couple of scenarios, Kez, and you tell me what you think:

1. Let’s pretend that I have never been a Christian – or that I am one who has “back-slidden” and is now wanting to get that gift again. It is a “free gift” right? So – while it may be nice of me to do certain things – I am certainly not required to. So, I choose not to. I am not going to do anything. I am going to simply say, “cool! It is a ‘free gift’ so I will take this offer of salvation.”

Easy enough, right? After all, didn’t Jesus pay it all?

So I get to continue to live my life exactly as I am currently. How is that you ask? My wife and I are non-monogamous (swingers, to the layman), I enjoy beer for the very reason that it makes me drunk now and then, I cuss when I am angry, watch whatever I want on TV, listen to whatever I want on the radio and every now and then I look at unseemly things on the internet.

I am not going to read the Bible because I simply don’t want to. I prefer Stephen King. I am not going to go to church because Sunday morning just doesn’t work for me – and those contemporary churches, with convenient Saturday night services… Well – those don’t really work either since Saturday night is usually the reason why I am sleeping in on Sunday.

I am not going to fellowship with Christians because I think most of them are stiff and boring. I am not going to listen to Christian music because most of it is pathetic – and the stuff that isn’t is extremely repetitive. I am simply not going to change my life. Not one bit.

And when I am lying in bed with three women (happens from time to time) with a good buzz going and Nine Inch Nails playing the perfect song for the occasion – guess what… I am going to reject all forms of “conviction” because, frankly, this stuff is fun.

Let me ask you – how free is that gift?

2. Of course, I was a Christian once – and by that I mean I was part of a great mass of people looking for something that wasn’t there; hoping beyond all hope that there really was a God who cared about us. But you know what I found out? He doesn’t care at all.

I’ll admit – I am the stereotypical “bitter” exChristian. Mostly because my “deconversion” is fairly new. I had no idea that this was an option! But I am thankful to whatever force there is to be thankful for that I discovered the option to walk away. How amazingly liberating to realize that my life is my own – that I can truly enjoy and explore the person I am – whether created or not – without shame or fear or second thoughts!

I am not really an atheist, per se, but I am certainly of the mind that God is simply an apathetic force – a mostly positive force that we are all a part of – but not really “on my side”. And he/she/it really doesn’t give whit about what I think or believe. In fact, what I think or believe is not something this God force is cognizant of at all. In fact, I doubt that this “God” is sentient beyond individual.

But here is the riddle: Am I someone who was once, but is not now? If so – what did I do to lose this “free gift” you speak of?

Or am I someone who once was, doesn’t think he is now, but since it IS a “free gift” still am whether I want it or not? And if so, why the worry? If I die without thinking I am a Christian, that shouldn’t matter at all.

Or am I someone who thinks he was, but never was? Now, be careful, because I am willing to bet that my “Christian” path was very similar to most that you have seen. I was saved at 19, entered Bible college and upon graduation spent twelve years in full time ministry. I sought God with everything I am – my heart, soul, mind and strength. I saw incredible things – just like I have seen incredible things since walking away. In the end, it wasn’t me who wasn’t reaching out, it was God. He simply wasn’t there. Ever. And that is just as much “proof” as anyone can present for the existence of the Christian God, right? Experience?

And, if I “never was” then what exactly did I do wrong in reaching out for that “free gift”?

If God is real, he is a selfish, childish, needy, ego-centric creature who is no more worthy of worship than Alec Baldwin… And at least Mr. Baldwin calls his kids now and then…

Free gift?

A lie. Not even Paul believed it.

A relationship?

Completely conditional to one also accepting a religion. Even Jesus taught that.


I want to take a second to say that after reading every word of this discussion… WOW! What an interesting thread! There is a part of me – that part still tied to my “cult” that feels sorry for the showing that Christians have made here. Uninformed, unprepared, unable to carry on a decent discussion with some folks who seemed more than willing to civilly discuss their beliefs. Dave8, Jim Arvo, and a number more (I forgot more than I remembered – LOL!)

I will be joining the forums to work out some questions I have of my own. I am eager to get the opinions and insights of some of you. I have learned a ton just reading through – and I am already a fairly bright guy! This is a great site and a wonderful resource for those of us who are still smouldering wicks…

Spoomonkey

keziah said...

spoomonkey,

your thread, it made me cry. i'm serious. when you said, "There is a part of me – that part still tied to my “cult” that feels sorry for the showing that Christians have made here. Uninformed, unprepared, unable to carry on a decent discussion with some folks who seemed more than willing to civilly discuss their beliefs."

this made me realise that the person you're talking about is me. i am the unprepared christian. i thought i could come here and use my words to reconvert people...but that was so arrogant of me and i feel truly humbled. there is nothing really that i can say to convert people. i know only god can do that. i have read so many questions in these forums about proof for god's existence, difficult questions about the validity of the bible, etc. and i feel so pathetic because i know i can't answer all of them. maybe its because im 19. maybe its because im a crappy christian. i dont know. i just want to apoligise to you spoomonkey, because i cant answer your questions. i can try, but i know my answers will be shut down by something else tricky that someone will say, and i will be stumped again. and because this website is making me confused and lost and a little overwhelmed by being completely shut down all the time with sarcasm, i think im gonna stop coming here.

this site has shown me that being a christian is not just about putting on a show of knowing all the answers and thwarting people with difficult arguments and acting more holy than anyone else. in fact, its really about none of those things. its about being humbled when you screw up, or you can't explain something about the bible or about god to someone. its about praying to Him every day, telling him everything you've done, every worry you have, every question you have, and knowing that he will look after you no matter how difficult things are. its about being forgiven when you doubt. all the questions that i've read here, especially on this thread, i've asked myself at some point or another in my life. i think probably every christian has. but these doubts have made me hold onto God even more. and really, when it comes down to it, all that matters to me is my raw, no frills relationship with god. i might from time to time wonder, how can god send people to hell? or why is god letting wars happen?. in the end, im just gonna cling to the fact that i will cling to for the rest of my life - that God loves me and wants to know me.

feel free to shoot this down. im not gonna be here to read it. if anything this site has made me a stonger christian. i dont want to preach in this comment. i just wanted to say how i felt. and that was it.

eel_shepherd said...

keziah wrote:
"...spoomonkey, ... i cant answer your questions. i can try, but i know my answers will be shut down by something else tricky that someone will say, and i will be stumped again..."

keziah, don't go away mad. In fact, don't go away at all.

This is not a community of hotshot lawyers who will just as happily argue the pro or the con position in the interest of whichever side happened to walk into the office waving a cheque. You say they will come up with "something else tricky" that will leave your message in tatters as if that's their goal in life.

They weren't looking for exit loopholes in the bible when they deconverted from the cult. Many of them made a last-ditch careful reading of the bible in a desperate effort to _remain_ Christians[!] and finally had to face the fact that they'd been clinging to an untenable position out of loyalty or fear or some other psychological reality.

It's not that they're trying to reduce your belief system (Christianity) to tatters as some sort of sadistic intellectual game; it's that they think your belief system (which was once their own closely held and precious to them belief system) is _already_ in tatters, all on its own, with no help from anyone. They don't have to look long and hard to find "technicalities" to discredit Christianity; no, there are great gaping holes in the core concepts of Christianity that they don't even _have to_ seek out. It would be harder to ignore them than to discover them.

And I might lastly point out that not everyone here disbelieves in a god; it's just Christianity that they concluded didn't hold water.

Isn't it possible that you're seeing and feeling what you've decided you're going to see and feel, both in your religion and at this site?

Poltergoost said...

Kevin said:

"As far as I know God does not require the universe to change, it changes because of sin. for example, there wasn't even rain on the Earth until the time of Noah(Gen 2:5), that means that something like rain which is a neccessity for us is actually the result of man's sin."

I realize that Kevin's post is a couple of years old, but I still wanted to reply to it.

First of all it was "The Earth" that was supposedly subjected to a curse because of man's sin. Not the universe.

Poltergoost said...

In regards to my post above, I meant to say "Change" instead of "Curse".

Pirromount said...

Well put letter. After putting a comedy video on myspace, having it featured, getting over 160,000 views and then having it censored and my account closed after angry christians demanded it be removed, I see how dangerous a deluded majority can be. You can see it at www.thesubmissivejesus.com. I've discovered that it all boils down to brain wiring: either your brain is wired to worship magic or it isn't, either it's wired to utilize logic or it isn't, either it's analytical of myths or it isn't. I'm sure that this is the last century for religion. Science and technology is advancing too swiftly for any primitive mindset to continue. Naturally, there will always be holdouts (some people still think the moon landing was faked), but the vast majority will smarten up as technology advances...or they will destroy themselves first and the evolutionary process will begin again.

Poltergoost said...

The reason why christians get so mad over "Anti-Christian Statements", or why they choose to post on this website in order to try to defend what they believe is because they know that deep down inside they are losing the battle.

Christianity is dying, and their god isn't doing a damn thing to stop it. These poor christians are fighting the good fight, and their god refuses to even help them. Yet they continue to fight the so called good fight. How pitiful.

I would say by the end of the century that christianity will be almost obsolete. It will by known as a religion of the past, and Jesus will be catogorized with Zeus and Apollo as a "Mythical God".

Their precious Jesus has not returned, and they are getting scared. Their precious faith and security is dying, and it scares the hell out of them.

Christians are weak minded fools who cannot handle or deal with reality. They are scared of reality, and they need a crutch named Jesus in order to deal with reality.

I'm sure that sooner or later, some idiot christian will come on here and try to debate me, and they will say that Jesus is coming soon, and that I am going to be sorry and that I am going to burn in hell.....blah blah blah.

I would be willing to bet that an asteroid or a comet hitting the earth will happen before their precious saviour ever returns. I also guarantee that God won't do a damn thing to save these poor fools either.

Before any christian asks "Why are you so mad Poltergoost"?

I'm mad as hell because of the lies and deciet that christians use to enslave and oppress others, and I'm mad as hell that I was stupid enough at one time to listen to these "Cult Members". I wasted years serving god and going to church.

The thing that really makes me mad is that there are still people who are buying into the all these lies and the biblical propoganda that preachers and other ignorant christians spread.

I will continue to fight against this oppression.

Sieghart said...

Its knda funny that if "Jesus" does some water into wine thing, is a miracle, but, if we do something, magic, card tricks, Harry Potter, etc. Its black magic and a sin. why? scared that your one obsession, thi "god" isnt as all powerful as you thought? its just a bunch of parlor tricks?

Buddy Ferris said...

Poltergoost said...

"The reason why christians get so mad over "Anti-Christian Statements", or why they choose to post on this website in order to try to defend what they believe is because they know that deep down inside they are losing the battle."

Well, dang, I'm glad you know the big 'why' answer. I've never actually met anyone before who could accurately discern another's motives. They'd try, and then get mad because of the 'why' they ascribed to someone else; humorous if pointless. Most conflicts of intellect are easily pursued profitably as long as the parties don't presume to know things they don't.

Putting Christians in a box and calling them 'they' presumes they think alike, believe the same things, act alike, all somewhere down at the lowest repulsive standard. Christians aren't all fools, afraid of science or of social and cultural change. Perhaps it's just the fanatics on both sides that confuse the discussion. Emotional diatribe vs. reasonable exchange.

Meanwhile, since this is the 'last century of Christianity' again; again; again; what are we to do? Oh my, will my hope disappear under the fury of the 20-somethings? Or might there be profit in my years of careful objectivity pursuing God?

I'm not overly fond of the spooky-pooky wierdos in the church, nor am I impressed with the narrow-minded fundamentalists, but I've met God's friends on four continents; they aren't anything like you describe. You'd like them, and what's more revealing, they'd like you even with your beliefs.

Best of luck, pal.

.:webmaster:. said...

Buddy,

So what was your motive in posting that little rant? Was it to edify? Were your motives driven out of pure heart? Did you hope to extend "True Christian™" love?

I don't know how old Polter is, but I'm 48. And I was a full-blown, evangelical, missionary-zeal Christian for 30 years. Funny how assumptions go both ways, huh?

You said rebukingly, "Putting Christians in a box and calling them 'they'..."

Then you said, "I've met God's friends on four continents; they aren't anything like you describe. You'd like them, and what's more revealing, they'd like you even with your beliefs."

Hmm. So it's okay for you to put Christians in a box, but Polter shouldn't EVER do anything so silly. I guess as long as the box is pretty, then a box is okay, right?

Have a nice day, BUDDY.

Buddy Ferris said...

Dear Webmaster,

What was my motive? Thanks for asking. Just thought I'd point out that having met one objectionable person who claimed to be a representative Christian doesn't support a categorization of all Christians as being like the one. Or having met one group claiming..., and so on. I've met all kinds over the years. Christians old and young, idealistic and realistic, silly and wise. With the small percentage of chaotic thinkers and compulsive haranguers removed from the mix of those I've known, the remaining (and quite diverse) adherents are neither fearful of the changes in culture around them nor concerned over the fact that science causes regular upheaval in traditional interpretations of historical understanding. My observation, my analysis.

I personally enjoy the play of history against a backdrop of faith in God. As often as one discovery or theory threatens to undermine the faith of many, another discovery or theory reverses the process. I think there is genuine nobility and benefit in the pursuit of objective truth by scientists and philosophers; it causes me no particular distress, nor does it cause more than a ripple in the world of Christian belief. The exceptions are minor. Evolution, for example, is a wonderful subject for discussion, but poses no particular threat to the church in spite of all the publicity and knee-jerk confrontation. A non-emotional, multi-lateral inquiry is useful; a confrontational debate obscures the issue and is perceived as threatening by both sides. A generally useless activity.

No great rebuke intended in my comments beyond perhaps pointing out the fundamental attribution error* in the referenced post. It was intended to provoke thought rather than recrimination. The logical follow-on to my comments might be, "What if there is more to know than I know? What if my understanding of the 'church' is biased? What if my experience with Christians is off-center? What if my opinions, so strongly embedded in my mind, aren't as soundly formed as I think? What if I'm one of those emphatic but unwise younger minds who haven't quite seen the larger picture? What if the 'body of believers' isn't anything like I've thought?" Those sorts of things.

I'm aware that my experience isn't precisely the same as anyone else's. I'm aware that a bad experience in a given context can predispose a person's mind for decades. Sometimes it's helpful to point out that our contextual presuppositions should be challenged from time to time. Someone said to our benefit, "The unobserved life isn't worth living." Or something along that line.

For a more personal example, what if your 30 years in the church weren't very much like what God intended for you or for those with whom you fellowshipped? What if those years were well-intended human attempts to do what they thought they found in scripture?

So there you have my motive, at least as clearly as I'm aware of it. Thanks again for asking, pal.

Buddy
P.S. It's Sunday, and I'm off to be with some fine folks at church. Some are searching, most are strong-minded believers, every profession from test pilot to school-kid, all imperfect. You should visit someday. You'd be welcome.



* "In attribution theory, the fundamental attribution error (also known as correspondence bias or overattribution effect) is the tendency for an observer to over-emphasize dispositional, or personality-based, explanations for behaviors observed in others while under-emphasizing situational explanations."

Buddy Ferris said...

Aha. It's "“The unexamined life is not worth living.” Socrates

Buddy

.:webmaster:. said...

Buddy,

I agree with you, if what your verbose post is intended to convey is that stereotyping any group is a mistake. In other words, if you are saying Christians are no different than anyone else on the planet, then I completely agree. If, however, you are trying to say that Christians are somehow superior to other people, or smarter, or of more value, or bound for everlasting bliss while everyone else is bound for horrific doom, then I disagree with your stereotype.

Now, as to this: "What if there is more to know than I know? What if my understanding of the 'church' is biased? What if my experience with Christians is off-center? What if my opinions, so strongly embedded in my mind, aren't as soundly formed as I think? What if I'm one of those emphatic but unwise younger minds who haven't quite seen the larger picture? What if the 'body of believers' isn't anything like I've thought?"

To a large extent, that is the purpose of this site. The stereotypical presenting face of Christianity is that Christians are "new creatures," "Christ lives in me," "transformed by the renewing...," but the reality is that Christians are absolutely indistinguishable from the general population. No magic there at all.

You continued, "Sometimes it's helpful to point out that our contextual presuppositions should be challenged from time to time."

Yes, that's exactly what I finally did in middle age. It didn't lead where I expected, but thanks for confirming that it was the best course of action. Reality is so much more fulfilling than is delusional mythology.

And more from you: "If your 30 years in the church weren't very much like what God intended for you or for those with whom you fellowshipped? What if those years were well-intended human attempts to do what they thought they found in scripture?"

Huh? I guess you missed the point. My years in "the church" had nothing to do with my de-conversion ; honest intellectual inquiry was the culprit. Any and all experiences I may have had only came under scrutiny in retrospect of my realization that Christianity is nothing more than a complex mythology.

Socrates also said (or rather asked) this: "Is the pious (good, moral, right action, etc.) loved by the gods because it is pious, or is it pious because it is loved by the gods?" (Euthyphro 10 a) In other words, if right actions are pious only because the gods love or command those actions, then moral rightness is entirely arbitrary, depending only on the whims or commands of the gods. If, on the other hand, the gods love right actions because they are already right, then there must be some non-divine source of values, which we might come to know independently of the gods, and I would add, to which the gods must answer.

That's a bit off topic, I suppose. The point is, if you are going to quote Socrates as an authority, I'm all for it.

alanh said...

Buddy Ferris wrote:

As often as one discovery or theory threatens to undermine the faith of many, another discovery or theory reverses the process.

That's an interesting statement, leaving theory aside for the moment, can you provide some examples of recent discoveries that support Christianity? There are a few positive studies of intercessory prayer, but the majority of the research in that area shows no significant effect.

Buddy Ferris said...

Dear Webmaster,

My apologies for verbosity. You dodged my question, though, so perhaps I didn't state it well. I hoped to broaden the frame of reference to include the possibility of being heard objectively. Perhaps we might approach the matter again on another occasion. Meanwhile, no offense intended or taken here.

Your testimony is quite well formed, by the way. There is much that provokes thought. I can relate to some of your history, having been through similar times with similarly flawed people.

For AdamH,
On examples of scientific theory that both threaten and support the Christian faith:

One that comes to mind is the coalescence of scientific opinion regarding the Big Bang and the origins of everything. The journals read like a modern paraphrase of the creation story. The difficulty a Christian might have is that it doesn't sound like scripture; it requires him to study a little and see this incredible universe traced back to the moment of beginning; an infinitely small, near infinitely dense point, preceded by... nothing, if the science is correct. Then, BANG! Light and darkness, matter and emptiness, stars and planets, water and land, plants and animals, and us. The earlier theories regarding the origin of the cosmos were much more inimical to a Christian's belief structure; now, Hawking-Turok could qualify for Papal approval.

Thanks for the inquiry, guys.

Buddy

.:webmaster:. said...

Ah, Buddy, perhaps I missed your question. I reread your post and noticed some rhetorically staged questions. Which one was the one you expected me to answer?

Thanks.

"The earlier theories regarding the origin of the cosmos were much more inimical to a Christian's belief structure; now, Hawking-Turok could qualify for Papal approval."

Ah huh. Right.

How so? Statements like sound pedantic, yet actually convey nothing. Please qualify and quantify your point with documented and referenced explanation.

Again, thank.

Buddy Ferris said...

Dear Webmaster,

Hypothesize with me. What if you're mostly right? Suppose your analysis of your 30 years revealed wishful myth, hypocrisy, and flawed thinking. You'd be consistent with the objective critics of the 'church' throughout history, but not original. Might there be more than you know?

I don't deny you the right to have firmly held opinions, nor do I suggest you're unjustified in lamenting the years spent in off-truth. Have you left room for a larger perspective?

In my earlier years, I knew enough to lecture my father about things he obviously didn't understand. He endured it graciously. We laughed together years later. My subject matter was similar to yours, positions developed by rational, objective analysis of available evidence. Accurate but incomplete.

I can't help but commend you for your aggressive pursuit of reasonable answers in the mountain of literature available in the field. I've done similarly, if not so extensively, and like you, I've seen much to dissatisfy and disappoint me there.

I've been pleased, in spite of the above, to discover a larger view than the either/or you describe. I was curious if you'd left room for being only mostly right.

Buddy

.:webmaster:. said...

"Have you left room for a larger perspective?"

That's not what you are asking me. You are asking me if I have left room to return to Christianity. That is NOT a larger perspective. That is a return to mystical, magical, mental masturbation. Calling that a "larger perspective" is ridiculous. It certainly is a different perspective; a perspective that says donkeys sometimes talk, chariots of fire rocket into space, undead zombies stroll about on occasion, a person can take a weekend break in the belly of a fish without difficulty, invisible creatures of all description inhabit the "firmament," whatever that is...

You get the point. It's clearly mythology. Only brainwashing could possibly convince a person otherwise.

Again, if your "larger view" includes adopting the position that magical power is available to those who believe this or that, well... I think I'll just stick with reality. When I want fantasy, I'll read a novel or watch a movie.

.:webmaster:. said...

Oh, I missed this:

"My subject matter was similar to yours, positions developed by rational, objective analysis of available evidence. Accurate but incomplete."

Since your subject matter, positions, or analysis was incomplete (hard to say from the sentence construction to which thing you are referring), perhaps you should spend a bit more time in the pursuit of reason.

But you weren't talking about yourself, were you? You were attempting to point a gnarled, wizened finger at me, right? If you really expect to convince me of anything, you'll have to provide a bit more of an argument than "I'm older and wiser than you." Age is evidence of only one thing: age.

alanh said...

Buddy Ferris wrote:

The journals read like a modern paraphrase of the creation story.

Well that's a little bit of a stretch, to put it mildly. The concept of a deity is absent (and not required) in physics and cosmology, although there are gaps, and god usually gets inserted into those gaps. You also have a Bible that needs to be interpreted in order to bring it into line with current knowledge, which raises a number of problems. After rewriting Genesis, it might end up sounding like this:


"In the beginning God created three dimensions of space and one of time as a four dimensional pseudo-riemannian manifold with signature. And the manifold had a scalar curvature approaching infinity asymptotically as time approaches the beginning. The mass-energy it contained was without form, and the inflaton moved upon the face of the spacetime. And God began to divide the fundamental forces. First He separated that which controls the geometry of spacetime and named it gravity. Next He separated the strong force from the rest, which He named the electroweak force. Then God saw that the quantum vacuum of the inflaton was false, so lo he smote it with a second order phase transition, and that did drive cosmic inflation of spacetime from the negative energy density of the quantum field. And the universe became vast. And He said, "Let there be quarks in the midst of the quark-gluon plasma," and he divided the quarks from the antiquarks. And He saw that matter was good, so He caused then CP violation to make more matter than antimatter, so that all might not be annihilated. And God said, "Let there be light," and there was light, for quark-antiquark annihilation created photons. And so ended the grand unification epoch."

Buddy Ferris said...

Dear Webmaster,

Nope. No finger pointing intended although I might gently point out that presuming to know my motive and taking offense because of it is the subject of earlier correspondence.

Greater intellects than mine (and perhaps your as well) have debated the existence of God and the validity of the Christian faith over the centuries, and they've come to a variety of conclusions.

Some of them agree with you; for example, the 'higher criticism' era is probably familiar to you; a period when the underpinnings of faith (of some) were challenged by historical analysis.

Another viewer might suggest that the period was helpful, and undermined only the less useful dogmas over which various groups had fought without adequate reason.

My inquiry wasn't toward the question of whether or not you might return to Christianity; it was more toward your willingness to consider the possibility of being less than absolutely correct in each particular.

Yep, I was talking about myself. I'm old, experienced, and perhaps wise in some things. Maybe just a few.

For AlanH,

Not bad. Bump it up to the 9 (or 11) dimensions required, and you're on a roll.

My point was simpler, though; current scholarship on cosmology causes me no distress. It doesn't shatter my religious beliefs; it doesn't cause me to struggle with the Bible.

Current scholarship would, however, drive the classic church theologian of decades past absolutely bonkers. Seems it's always been that way. Fundamental change in understanding is hard to grasp and adapt to our perceived world and concepts.

Buddy

.:webmaster:. said...

"My inquiry ... was more toward your willingness to consider the possibility of being less than absolutely correct in each particular."

I was an absolutely convinced Christian for three decades. I've admitted numerous times on this site that I was considerably less than absolutely correct in each particular while in the cult.

Now, if you have evidence in support that reality includes something I'm missing, then please present that evidence.

To restate: I would say that my abandonment of Christianity after so long a time of devoted committment clearly demonstrates my ability to admit error.

Buddy Ferris said...

Dear Webmaster,

Thanks for the clear answer, and I'll concede your point for the moment. Before the detail of evidence, though, could we generalize a couple of things? For instance, to what do you attribute the persistence through the centuries of great minds who hold to their faith?

I'm aware as are you that some of the great intellects of history were Christians. From your point of view, each of them was in error in both detail and in total. How might the many great minds be so agreeably in error, in general?

Note that here we're not quibbling over the number of years since creation or the proper form of baptism; just the surprising persistence of great minds that hold the same central beliefs.

Buddy

Buddy Ferris said...

For AlanH,

Here's an entertaining side-note: The Catholic Church has been on board with the Big Bang since 1951. Continuing refinement by researchers since then hasn't raised a ripple of concern.

Hawking-Turok* follows in the same vein.

Buddy

*... So in essence, Hawking and Turok proposed that the universe began from virtually nothing. The two physicists believe that the instanton does not exist "inside" of anything, nor was there anything existing "before" the instanton. The instanton was a combination of gravity, space, time, and matter packed into a rounded miniscule object. They believe the existence and subsequent actions of this object produced the big bang, and subsequently, the universe we live in today.

.:webmaster:. said...

"To what do you attribute the persistence through the centuries of great minds who hold to their faith?"

I thought you were opposed to lumping together groups of people under "they" or the equivalent. I sincerely doubt there is one concise answer that would apply equally to each of those who might be so labeled by you as "great minds" and who hold (or held) to "their faith." A better way to get a proper answer might be to directly ask each of those individuals of whom you are thinking. Barring the ability to do so, because the person has passed on or is unavailable, then reading what they've written on the matter might be helpful. If that too impossible, then all that is left is personal conjecture, which is probably worthless. In other words, your question, the way you've asked it, leaves me with no reasonable way to specifically answer.

Instead of asking about "great minds," which you haven't defined, by the way, a better question might be "Why do human beings seem to have the compulsion to create gods and religions. Since there are thousands of gods and thousands of religions, and all have a vast variety of adherents of all stripes, from all walks of life, an inclination toward religion appears endemic to our species. From my vantage point the question seems to be "Why do human beings have an inclination toward creating gods and religions?"

This, in fact, is a topic that greatly interests me, of which I am exploring as best I'm able by reading the works of scientific men and women who are studying this phenomenon. I think you will agree that people (all kinds of people) believe and have believed all sorts of strange things. Though I do posses a good dose of curiosity on this subject, I must admit a great deal of personal ignorance on the topic. Of course other mysteries abound such as, why we as a species feel compelled to create music, art, books, movies, hair and clothes styles, myriads of machines, and on and on and on. So, my most honest answer to your question is this: Our minds are complexly evolved and the full understanding of what makes us all tick has not yet been fully ferreted out.

"Great minds that hold the same central beliefs."

Again, great minds still needs defining, as does "same central beliefs." I'm not sure what beliefs you consider "central," and would like to have a list of these "great minds" who held or do hold to these "beliefs" and how you know they would all feel comfortable under the same umbrella.

Now, if you are trying to imply that various forms of Christianity were accepted as true by some intelligent people in history, then I will concede that point. That they would have been able to get along as friends, however, has not been shown, as Christianity has been fractured into an ungodly number of splinter groups since its appearance in history, most of which view competing groups as heretical or at least in error. Regardless, those intelligent people who built the pyramids thought RA and others were gods. The development of what became modern mathematics is frequently attributed to the Arabic Islamic nations. The pagan religions were also followed by numerous intelligent people. Socrates, for instance, whom you thought worthy of quoting, was a pagan, right?

Now, about that evidence you are prepared to present...

Buddy Ferris said...

Dear Webmaster,

Though I did quote him, it was purely inadvertent. He wrote nothing, he espoused little, and he is best remembered for dictating both sides of a discussion, putting things in his opponent's mouth that no sensible person would propose. While I personally find the tenuous records we have of his life barely readable, he remains one of the most influential contributors to Western philosophy.

Given a choice of abandoning his philosophical inquiry or facing death, Plato's Socrates embraced death with impressive nobility. Perhaps few of us are presented with the same stark choice between philosophy and death, but all of us are daily faced with opportunities to decide between convenient conventionality and our devotion to truth and reason. How we choose determines whether we, like Socrates, deserve to call our truthful.

Your pursuit of the truth has led you across difficult and painful terrain, yet you persist. For that, you are to be commended. I certainly don't fault you in it.

I am genuinely curious, though, as to how you've managed to discount the surprising body of literature you cite. Reasonable men, most of them, who wrote with clarity and sound reason where needed.

I know you have specific disagreements with their interpretation of this or that, but I know you must have some thoughts on why so many reasonable men walked that path.

You raise the question of why it might be that we humans are wont to create our gods. I suppose we might suggest that it is logically an extension of our general creativity. You might with equal logic inquire what it might be that evokes the god-hunger in most generations and most civilizations. An answer to either question is suspect unless it answers both. Inside one? Inside all? Outside?

Later,
Buddy

.:webmaster:. said...

So, you have little respect for Socrates, yet you cite him, at least on occasion, when it suits you. Hmm.

"He is best remembered for dictating both sides of a discussion, putting things in his opponent's mouth that no sensible person would propose."

I'd be genuinely interested in the titles to the books that you've read that brought you to your listed conclusions, and at least one example of the information Socrates presented that "no sensible person would propose."

"I am genuinely curious, though, as to how you've managed to discount the surprising body of literature you cite. Reasonable men, most of them, who wrote with clarity and sound reason where needed.

I know you have specific disagreements with their interpretation of this or that, but I know you must have some thoughts on why so many reasonable men walked that path."


Here we go again with them and their. Why not add, "those guys?" Sweeping generalizations are unproductive -- isn't that what you've been saying? You really need to be pointedly specific if you expect a succinct conversation. You could, for instance, drag out a quote from one of these "thems" and explain why you agree with it and ask me if my thoughts reflect something different. Lumping together nameless individuals who said "lots of stuff" that I supposedly have discounted...

Well, hopefully you get the point.

"An answer to either question is suspect unless it answers both."

And that dogmatic statement is true because... why? All you are doing is presenting a supposition with the childish implication that if an full and complete answer is not readily available, then GODDIDIT! But, you're jumping ahead of yourself. You haven't established that there even is a god. Then, you haven't established that this god is your god, the one who inseminated a human virgin so He could have a son who was really Him and who will one day horrifically torture for all eternity every human being who fails to discover, submit, and faithfully adhere for life to the correct version of the right religion. (Take breath.) Then, having established this god, we would have to discuss the processes this god used to implant various characteristics into her pet humans. Perhaps she simply used evolution! Or maybe, it was a magic frog!

Now, setting aside all this empty banter which leads nowhere, I would now appreciate being provided with the evidence you implied possessing. Unless, that is, you were just bluffing.

boomSLANG said...

Hmmm.......the prose looks vaguely familiar; it has a certain ring to it, no? I wonder if the "evidence" won't be a "Thin Man on a Sussex slope"? Of course, if evidence is not forth-coming, and we get bogged down with what's wrong with "non-belief"....that's very telling, too.

boomSLANG said...

Edit:

I should have said, if we get bogged down with non-belief in Christ. Because surely there's nothing to get bogged down about concerning non-belief in those "other gods", right?

alanh said...

Buddy wrote:

The Catholic Church has been on board with the Big Bang since 1951.

Buddy, the irony here is the big bang theory has nothing to do with any god or gods; any deity has to be fit into the ever-diminishing gaps. Current scholarship would probably drive a classic church theologian crazy, but why should we assume contemporary theologians are any more grounded in reality than their predecessors? The Catholic church wants to appear friendly to science, but at the same time they claim the "ultimate" truth for themselves. After 2,000 years we still have no evidence to support their beliefs. Science keeps moving forward while theologians keep adjusting their "ultimate" truths in an effort to keep up.

Emma 4 JC said...

The vast majority of the world believe they have a soul, that there is a spiritual side to every person, and have some form of belief in a God. The main religions, Christianiy, Roman Catholic(still Christain in the wider sense), and Islam were founded apon Jesus - whom only Christians (including RC's) believe is their Lord and Saviour.
I'm not saying always go with the majority, but alot of you ex-christians seem like typical, westerners. I don't care if you have visited other countries, you obviously don't understand. Even in a Hindu country, I feel the relation and truth that there is a spiritual realm, like a mental realm, that is entwined with the physical.

boomSLANG said...

Emma 4 jc: I'm not saying always go with the majority, but alot of you ex-christians seem like typical, westerners.

Do you believe in Quetzalcoatl? No? Boy, that's SO typical of non-westerners.

And I'm glad you're not saying to go with the majority, because at one time, the "majority" of the world's population believed the sun revolved around the earth. They believed that a "firmament" held up the sky(which they thought was "water" because it was blue).

So, yes, "popular vote" is a horrible reason to believe something.

Emma 4 jc: Even in a Hindu country, I feel the relation and truth that there is a spiritual realm, like a mental realm, that is entwined with the physical.

So, since being in a country where Hindū Dharma is practiced makes you "feel" that there exists a transcendent reality, maybe reincarnation is "Truth", and Christianity's "Heaven and Hell" is a lie, huh? Naah.

Buddy Ferris said...

For AlanH,

I willingly agree with you as you wrote, "Buddy, the irony here is the big bang theory has nothing to do with any god...".

Absolutely true, although the irony isn't as poignant as it might be. What might a theoretical physicist do with an non-quantifiable event? Seriously.

Imagine for a moment that 'God is'; how might our theory authors discover this? According to their 'proofs', the instant before the bang just doesn't exist; there was no gravity, matter, space, or time. Literally nothing existed before the bang as far as they know.

Won't it be intriguing when their theory is replaced by another, as has every such 'theory of everything' so far.

My favorite pratfall was Darwin's postulation that women as a species were inferior to men.

Buddy

P.S. Was it you commending Voltaire to me in earlier correspondence? Voltaire, atheist, French author, humanist, rationalist (1694 - 1778), held up a copy of the Bible in the air and smugly proclaimed, "In 100 years this book will be forgotten and eliminated...". Shortly after his dead, Voltaire’s private residence became the headquarters of the Geneva Bible Society and became a major distribution hub for the very Bible he assigned to extinction.

Buddy Ferris said...

Dear Webmaster,

I know you'd like to move from the 'sweeping generalizations' to specifics, but can't we avoid the simpler dichotomies and pursue some subject about which you might entertain a point-counterpoint?

Or we can just throw mutually-exclusive statements at each other to no particular end.

I'm persuaded God is; you're persuaded God isn't. There, that's settled. I'm persuaded that Christianity's true believers are enlightened; you're persuaded they're deceived. OK, that's settled too. You're a rationalist; I'm one too, though I doubt you'd agree. Enough?

Any open subjects that don't close with the first rebuttal?

How about the soul? Thoughts?

Buddy

P.S. Don't presume my motives are evangelical. I'm actually interested in your reasoning.

.:webmaster:. said...

Sure, that'd be great.

Presenting your evidence for an invisible, immaterial, super-being with whom you commune would be a tremendous place to start.

Thanks.

Buddy Ferris said...

Dear Webmaster,

Ok, last comment for the night.

You asked for a citation showing Socrates being unreasonable (my word); see Laches by Plato for the dialog on courage. It proceeds something like this:

1. Socrates' opponent, Laches, begins the game with his thesis, 'Courage is endurance of the soul'. Socrates takes the polar opposite position and refutes the premise.
2. Socrates (as Plato writes, of course) engages his opponent and extracts agreement to some simple things such as, 'Courage is a fine thing' and 'Ignorant endurance is not a fine thing'.
3. Socrates then pounces upon these peripheral elements and insists that they obviate the original. It follows then, according to Socrates, that 'courage is not endurance of the soul'.
4. Here Plato's account has Laches say wonderful things about Socrates' cleverness.
5. Socrates claims that his opponent's premise has been proven false and that he has proven its' converse to be true. Applause by all.

Perhaps, I think to myself, except that 'A+B=C' disproven cannot be support for 'A==C'. A high school debate class knows better, yet Plato's account treats the logical fallacy (the undistributed middle) as though it were reasonable.

Many, if not most, of his dialogs follow a similar form.

That said, his impact on Western philosophy and our subsequent rationalist societies gives Socrates a well deserved place in our history. I intend no disrespect, I only find it tedious to read the historical works.

Buddy

At the Gutenberg project, you can see the text of Plato's Laches for this particular dialog. His more frequently cited works, The Republic and Apology are structured similarly.

Courage IS endurance of the soul.

.:webmaster:. said...

Buddy,

My only real point with pursuing the Socrates "stuff" was because of the apparent duplicitous way you quoted him on the one hand and disparaged him on the other. In reality, however, it is Plato we are both talking about. We can't even be absolutely sure that Socrates ever said anything ascribed to him, or for that matter, whether Socrates was ever more than a literary vehicle.

But all this is irrelevant and off topic.

Now, once again: your evidence! Are you prepared to throw it on the table to be examined? If not, then further discussion on non-essential rabbit trails would appear counterproductive.

boomSLANG said...

B. Ferris: I'm persuaded God is; you're persuaded God isn't. There, that's settled.

I'm taking it that the "that's settled" part was facetious?... nonetheless, let's examine a variation of the above statement:

Christian Theists are persuaded Christ "is"; Muslims Theists are persuaded Christ "isn't".

There, that's settled, too. Right?

No. Unfortunately, it's not quite as simple as "I believe in leprechauns; you don't....big deal."

As long as there are people turning each other into red confetti over whether their particular deity "is", or "isn't", the issue is certainly NOT settled. As long as Theists go door-to-door soliciting their particular brand of "God", the issue is NOT settled. As long as Theists fly jet liners into buildings, it's NOT settled.

So, no, Mr. Ferris....if you want to "settle" it?... present your objective evidence that your personal creator deity, "Christ", exists, and all other known creator deities are false. You are making a fantastic claim---prove it. To the non-believer, "god" is a generic term; to the Christian, it's an exclusive term. Prove that Jesus Christ "is", exclusively.

B. Ferris: I'm persuaded that Christianity's true believers are enlightened; you're persuaded they're deceived. OK, that's settled too.

What on earth is a "true believer"? Is that opposed to false-believer? Are you suggesting that some Christians are actually deceived in what they believe?? Hmm....hopefully you see the problem with that, if true.

B. Ferris: You're a rationalist; I'm one too, though I doubt you'd agree. Enough?

You have belief. You either, A) "know" that your belief is universally true and have the evidence to support it; or B) have "faith" that your belief is universally true, and thus, reasonable evidence doesn't matter, because "faith" is to believe without reasonable evidence.

If "A", like the Webmaster said, let's have a look at your objective evidence. If "B", then you're right, I disagree that you are a "rationalist", because believing without reasonable evidence is not rational.

Courage IS accepting reality...the good, the bad, the ugly.

Buddy Ferris said...

Good morning guys,

Webmaster, I answered your request for a citation because you asked. Nothing more.

On the 'that's settled' comments, I was describing the field as it has unfolded in our conversations. You hold one position, I hold another; they are mutually exclusive, separate paradigms (yuck) without identifiable middle ground. Fine. Leave those battlefields for the moment and consider other venues of discourse. Are there relevant subjects that don't raise the rancor associated with 'Christian' topics? Or are we doomed to sneer at one another without actually having discoursed?

For instance, Emma4 raised an interesting line of inquiry with her comment regarding the common opinion on the existence of the soul. Without implying anything too spiritual for the moment, a discourse on the soul might inquire as to its' definition...

mind, will, emotions? Life force?

...its' supporting evidence...

near-death narratives, psychic phenomena?

...its' location...

tied to the body? vice versa? not?

...its' activity...

thought, expression, communication?

... and its' substance...

material/elemental/ethereal?

In such a dialog, we needn't be opponents.

I realize that this forum attracts some who want naively to change your mind and feel obliged to do so by tender words or by picking a fight; your harsh response to them is understandable.

I don't pick fights; at least not intentionally. I do appreciate sound thinking. You've been clear about what you don't believe, and about what you're opposed to, and about how you feel on those issues. What I haven't heard is about what you do believe. I thought it might be interesting to discuss a middle-ground, non-theological issue like the existence of a soul, or why some superstitions persist in the face of science and literacy. Must I be your adversary to do so?

Buddy

Buddy Ferris said...

Dear Boomslang,

Lest we over-use the 'objective evidence' argument, let me pose for us a similar request.

Last Sunday afternoon, where were you and with whom? Provide as many details as you like. Corandum rules of evidence apply.

Buddy

.:webmaster:. said...

Buddy, your "you think this, I think that" approach is routinely used around here by apologists, and to be honest, I used it myself while a Christian. The idea is to get the other person to agree that two contradictory statements have equal merit. "I can't prove there is a god" vs. "I can't prove there isn't a god" are given equal ground, equal value, equal authority... however you'd like to frame it.

The thing is, it's a false analogy. There is NO equal standing between those kinds of statements. You say "There is a GOD!" I say, "Show me!"

You say, "There is a UFO!" I say, "Show me!"

You say, "I have regular communion with a magical man in the sky!" I say, "Show me the door!"

All your questions about various mental states and subjective so-called ethereal experiences have no concrete answers. We simply do not know enough about the human brain. Studies into all those topics are underway, but the conclusions thus far are in the infancy stage.

So, I'll just say to all that stuff, I don't know. My opinion is that they are all natural processes of our minds in a natural world. I doubt there is something magical going on. I could be wrong though. Do you have any EVIDENCE that your magic is real?

Inferring stuff from a base of ignorance is not intelligent -- it is presuppositional. You presume your god and your religion are the correct ones and then you go out searching for unanswerable, or interesting, or leading questions to which you assign YOUR answer: GODIDIT!

To say, GODIDIT may be a reasonable answer, once we establish that such a creature exists. But is it the most likely answer? So many parts of nature have been directly credited to one god or another in our species' history, only to have later discoveries de-mystify and assign the credit to natural forces. God keeps retreating, and is now the God of the Gaps in evolution.

That trend tells me that it is quite likely that all the issues you mentioned will eventually be discovered to be natural processes that only exist in our brains.

Again, I could be wrong in my assumption, but until I get evidence to the contrary, I feel no compulsion to retreat into mythology.

I hope you see the point?

If you cannot present any evidence for your god beyond "But what about BLANK that hasn't been answered yet," I don't think you are any different from all the rest of the religiously inflamed minds out there.

alanh said...

Buddy

If you want to assert that a deity created the big bang, that's fine. That's a gap that may always be with us, just bear in mind Allah, Yahweh and Vahiguru can comfortably fit in that gap as well. On the other hand if you assert that there is a deity that is involved in mankind's affairs, as Christians often do (even to the point of claiming daily interaction with this entity,) then some evidence would be helpful. The typical claims made by believers are perfectly suitable for scientific study, however when believers start saying their claims are somehow exempt from examination that raises an enormous red flag. We can detect the presence of a planet by examining the orbit and light of a star, we may not find out much about the planet, but at least we know its there. Similarly we can look for the presence of a deity by examining its effects on people and things. That's why I mentioned studies of intercessory prayer, if prayer actually worked the data would support that claim.

boomSLANG said...

Quote: "Dear Boomslang,

Lest we over-use the 'objective evidence' argument, let me pose for us a similar request.

Last Sunday afternoon, where were you and with whom? Provide as many details as you like. Corandum rules of evidence apply.

Buddy"


Dear "Buddy",

Heavens-to-betsy!... didn't we beat this horse to a bloody pulp in that "other thread"?? Why in Hades are you asking such a question? If I tell you what I did, that I spear-headed a sit-down dinner for 200 people at a fine arts museum, I'm NOT telling you CONDITIONALLY. Repeat--I'm NOT telling you with conditions attached. You are FREE to reject whatever "evidence" I put forth, whether it be eyewitness testimony, video footage, receipts(all of which I can produce)....OR some drunk fisherman in the middle East who had a vision that I did it.

Furthermore, I don't claim to have done anything out of the ordinary, Bud'. I don't claim to have worked any "magic", or anything else that defies physics. For instance, I didn't run out of the client's wine, and then turn the Voss sparkling water into merlot. Nor did I "zAp" the cow into existance from which I prepared the chateau. Are you with me so far?

Additionally, Bud', if you don't believe me?...you can go on your merry way, unharmed. I will not track you down and set you on fire if you should be skeptical of my claims. Do you see the difference(s) yet? Gosh, I hope so.

PS: BTW, I'd like to thank all Christians for not pelting me with rocks for the divine transgression of earning a living on the Sabbath. Again, thanks guys.

boomSLANG said...

B. Ferris: "Emma4 raised an interesting line of inquiry with her comment regarding the common opinion on the existence of the soul. Without implying anything too spiritual for the moment, a discourse on the soul might inquire as to its' definition..."

Good thinking. Okay, if this hypothetical "thing" known as a "soul" is not a spiritual "thing", then is this an admission that it is at least partially a physical "thing"? Yes?..or no?

On the other hand, it seems that "God" can have a "mind" without a body, yes?...yes, of course, so it seems to me that this is one of the first issues that needs to be addressed. The "soul": material/tangible?..or immaterial/intangible?

Meanwhile, in an attempt to define the "soul", B. Ferris, offered:

mind, will, emotions? Life force?

...its' supporting evidence...


You say "soul"....I say brain. I posit that one cannot have a "mind", "will", or "emotions" without a healthy functioning brain. I argue that there is more credible evidence that a "mind" is dependent on a brain, than there is that a "mind" can exist independent of a "brain".

Additionally, if, as some theists/dualists claim, a "soul" can exist independently of a "brain", then by that definition, a paper weight can have a "soul", and for all we know, perhaps paper weights can be banished to paper weight purgatory for not being heavy enough? But seriously, all facetiousness aside--it raises a good and valid point, IMO. If a "soul" can exist independently of a brain, then why can't inanimate objects have "souls"? If one arues that only living organisms can have a "soul", then does an opossum, which is quite possibly one of the world's dumbest animals, have a "soul"???? If so, does it spend eternity as "stupid" roadkill?

About "life force"---while I agree that the human body is resilient, it is due, again, to specific parts of the brain. For instance, a stroke victim might have complete loss of identity; be blind; be deaf; be unable to eat and/or swallow on their own, but "seemingly" have a "will" to live. I would argue that it is in fact the brain stem keeping the person alive....not some unseen intangible "life force".

B. Ferris: near-death narratives, psychic phenomena?

...its' location...


Ah, yes, "near-death" experiences. Okay, what about people who come close to death but "experience" nothing? Would you accept that as evidence for the non-existance of the "soul"? Or is it that those people don't have souls?

What about about people on the other side of the planet who have NDEs and claim to see "Muhammad"? Would you then accept that as evidence that "Allah" is the "Lord of Lords...King of Kings"??? Somehow, I don't think so.

Regarding the location of the "soul". Good, 'glad you raised this issue. So?....WHERE is it? In what part of the human body does it reside? Surely, not the "heart", because people get transplanted donor hearts and they don't become someone else. This one always leaves me curious. Listening.

"Psychic phenomena"? Where?

B. Ferris: tied to the body? vice versa? not?

...its' activity...


The "soul" and it's activity. Okay, is the "soul" active during sleep? Does it, too, need rest? If so, how will it "rest" in an atemporal existance? OR..it doesn't need rest, and one will remain self-aware in a perpetual state of consciousness? Again, seems like a living "hell"(pun intended)

B. Ferris: You've been clear about what you don't believe, and about what you're opposed to, and about how you feel on those issues.

And unless I've missed something, you ignore these issues. For example, how about this:

B. Ferris stated: "I'm persuaded that Christianity's true believers are enlightened; you're persuaded they're deceived. OK, that's settled too."

I responded: What on earth is a "true believer"? Is that opposed to false-believer? Are you suggesting that some Christians are actually deceived in what they believe??

I'd like an answer, please. Can Christian believers be deceived into thinking they're "True believers", when if fact, they are really in error?

And BTW, then there's the umpteen times you've been ask to put forth evidence to support your claim. 'Got any? And for the time being, we won't haggle over the word "objective", how's that?

B. Ferris: What I haven't heard is about what you do believe. I thought it might be interesting to discuss a middle-ground, non-theological issue like the existence of a soul, or why some superstitions persist in the face of science and literacy. Must I be your adversary to do so?

Is this an admission that Christianity is a "superstition"? Or are you implying that all Theists other than Christians are superstitious? Which?

I say that some superstitions persist in the face of science and literacy because it's not only the ignorant who want to live forever.

Buddy Ferris said...

For AlanH,

Thanks for the thoughtful comment. On the issue of gaps left for God as science advances, well, that's a defensible view. I'm inclined to give God credit for orchestrating the whole thing right down to the sub-atomic particle level. It looks to me like the pea-sized object from which everything was born in the bang was created on the spot from nothing. The physical laws with which we are familiar that support all our theories didn't apply at the beginning of that instant. Then bang, everything begins to follow the rules right down to the scientist who examines the evidence. Now I realize that you probably see the event differently. You may, of course.

While we might speculate on what preceded Hawking's instanton, you're correct in that it is just speculation by any of us from a scientific point of reference.

You raise valid questions regarding evidence, and the 'studies on prayer being inconclusive' is a useful data point.

Nothing is exempt from examination (at least that's my opinion); but not everything is by nature easily examined.

I've examined prayer with mixed results. When I was 5, I prayed for a Boy Scout knife; no knife. When I prayed with a dying old man and gently agreed with him that it was time to go, others and I lovingly released him to God; he recovered anyway. Go figure.

Some difficulty arises in the matter of what evidence is available and what evidence we're willing to accept. For instance, if one fellow claims to have seen a UFO, no one pays much attention. If dozens see the same UFO at the same time, it's news. If the FAA and Air Force track the thing, it's approaching real if still unidentified.

If I'm told by a fellow I know that he prayed and a young girl (who had been dead some number of days and had begun to decay and smell) was brought back to life, hmm. But if it was done in front of a crowd of thousands with a couple dozen family members there to affirm the tale to the doctor, well, you file that one away under 'I don't know what to do with it.'

If you see such things personally, you make up your own mind as to the veracity of the attributed cause. You may assume it's all just a fraud perpetrated by charlatans. Unless you know the folks personally and you're around when it happens with some regularity.

So, what evidence might we both accept? Tough one.

That was actually the point of my 'Last Sunday, where were you...' illustration to our Webmaster. What evidence is acceptable?

Repeatability is another tough hurdle. Science works every time or it isn't science, it's busted theory. Troublingly, prayer isn't supposed to work like magic. A failed repeatability test is a flawed approach from the premise.

What if it works, but not often in the manner we expect, and then only sometimes do we 'see' any answer? Does that mean anything at all?

Buddy

Buddy Ferris said...

Dear Webmaster,
Thanks for the 'I don't know' explanation. You're correct in avoiding supposition from a position of ignorance as well. There certainly is a mythology associated with Christianity, or at least a long list of misinterpretations of scripture. My pet peeve is the Western insistence that the purpose of the "Church" has anything to do with Sunday morning.

If you don't mind, take a run through my response to AlanH above; that will avoid repetition. Then help me out with some rules of evidence we can work with. If we lay a little ground work, we can avoid the bi-directional misunderstanding that is so common.

Thanks,
Buddy

Buddy Ferris said...

OOPS! Last note; the intent of you believe this, I believe that was not to equate the two positions but rather to move the issue off the field of discussion until a better opportunity presents itself.

After all, Socrates suggests by his example that we move on to less volitile issues, there to build the surprisingly crushing counterpoint.

Courage IS accepting reality...the good, the bad, the ugly. At least boomslang thinks so.

boomSLANG said...

Buddy Ferris previously stated: "I'm persuaded that Christianity's true believers are enlightened; you're persuaded they're deceived. OK, that's settled too."

To which I responded: What on earth is a "true believer"? Is that opposed to false-believer? Are you suggesting that some Christians are actually deceived in what they believe??

I further stated in a later post: I'd like an answer, please. Can Christian believers be deceived into thinking they're "True believers", when if fact, they are really in error?

Waiting.

Buddy Ferris(most recently): "Nothing is exempt from examination (at least that's my opinion); but not everything is by nature easily examined."

No, Bud ', nothing is exempt from examination......well, of course, except for whatever evidence you have that supports your belief that a self-existing disembodied supernatural man-god is responsible for the Universe and all in it; and the belief that this "being" is still hangin' around "somewhere", answering earthling's prayers(when he/she/it feels like it)

Which leads us to....

Buddy Ferris: Troublingly, prayer isn't supposed to work like magic. A failed repeatability test is a flawed approach from the premise.

Oh looky!...how convenient! You cannot test prayer, because it works when works, and it doesn't work, when it doesn't work.

buddy ferris said...

Boomslang,

You'll note that I don't answer each of your questions, and that I may not rise to the bait you dangle. Do I therefor not exist? Must I say yes to each thing you ask in order to prove my existence? Please

Surely your specious argument is offered more as an offensive gambit than a serious rebuttal.

Buddy

boomSLANG said...

Buddy Ferris: You'll note that I don't answer each of your questions, and that I may not rise to the bait you dangle.

Dear Buddy,

Yeah, I noticed, nonetheless, my questions are not "bait"; it's merely honest inquirey based on statements that YOU have made in this thread. If you don't have answers, and/or, if you feel "trapped" in having to answer such questions, then maybe you should re-examine certain aspects of your beliefs, no? The "True believer" part comes immediately to mind. If you made a faux pas and want to retract that term?... then just say so.

Additionally, it was YOUR idea to bring "souls" into the discussion. Again, my questions and statements concerning the "soul" are honest questions that arise when I try to reconcile such an "idea". And frankly, I think it's a bit one-sided if it's going to be solely up to Buddy Ferris to determine if the participants of this discussion are giving "serious rebuttals", or not. In fact, let's throw "mutually-exclusive statemements" at each other:

You say my argument isn't a serious rebuttal; I say my argument is a serious rebuttal. There, that's settled.

Will that work?

Remember, I'm just an heathen who's here by "chance", biding my time before the "abyss". In the mean time, I get meaning out of trying to understand Theists, in part, because I used to be a Theist. The difference is, like the average Theist, I never actually thought about my believe; I just believed it because I was taught to believe it----of course, not discounting the "fear" struck into me should I NOT believe it.

On the other hand, Buddy, you surely seem like a person who has thought about your belief, and from what I can tell, it's causing some cognitive dissonance, no? If I'm wrong, then I apologize in advance, yet, I don't quite know what else I'm to think about this, since you address so little of what's asked of you, and/or conclude that it's all "specious".

Peace.

Buddy Ferris said...

Dear boomslang,
You asked what a true believer might be. In the context of my comment, here are some points.

The difference between 'hope' and 'faith', and perhaps the reason the two concepts are offered separately, might be likened somewhat to the difference between 'wish' and 'know'.

Those who profess to be Christians might therefore be divided (for this discussion only, please) into those who hope they are on the right track and those who know so with a reasonable and adequate measure of certainty.

My point in using the term 'true believer' was to differentiate those who know (and behave accordingly) from those who only hope so(and are easily provoked to fear by secular inquiry).

You went on to ask if a Christian could be deceived into thinking themselves 'true believer'. Of course; no serious Christian would continue if they thought they were otherwise.

It might be helpful to differentiate between those deceived and those encumbered. The former implies something done to them deliberately; the latter suggests baggage associated with non-central issues.

Leaving the issue of deliberate deception aside, Western Christianity has baggage that wasn't picked up from either Judaism or the early church. Much of the pain evidenced on this site originates in the artificial trappings (baggage) of church, ministry, dogmatic teachings, and so on.

The context of my comment regarding the 'true believer' was intended to make those distinctions only.


Granted, I wasn't particularly gracious regarding your commentary on how conveniently I excluded prayer from the issues of test by repeatability. Let me state it politely. Prayer is conversation by definition, conversation is bi-directional and therefore dependent on both parties. A test of results based on one party's activity with repeatability being the criteria suggests a misunderstanding of the subject being tested.

In life, of course, it isn't convenient at all. Many would prefer magic; push the button, get the stuff. It's easier than conversation; it's also a bit childish.

Buddy

stronger now said...

"Prayer is conversation by definition, conversation is bi-directional and therefore dependent on both parties."

If it is dependant on both parties then It's not really prayer(conversation) if one party is fictional, imaginary, or non-responsive. Even if one gets an "answer" it could still be an imagined response.

Usually a person can logically determine if they are having an actual conversation.

"Hey bill. How are you"

response:"Just fine stronger now. How are you?"

Lets try that with god shall we?

Stronger now: "Hey god can you help me with a problem that I know you can help me with? I know you can because I've read the bible and truly believe it to be your word. Your word says You can heal my heart and give me peace. Could you do that for me please?"

god:

Stronger now: "God, can you help me I'm still not feeling your love and I'm starting to go crazy so could you please help me keep my sanity?"

god:

Stronger now: "God I need you. could you give me a sign that you are helping me?"

god:

Stronger now: "God I'm really going nuts here and my wife is thinking about putting me away for a while and I'm starting to think that might be o.k. but I just need some strenght from you, some sign, some peace, anything. I love you, please please help me."

god:

Stronger now: "God I am truly sorry for anything I said or did to make you angry and I submit to your will cause mine is stupid and dangerous and wrong and I'm so sorry. Please help me."

god:

Stronger now: "God it's been a long time now and I'm not getting any better here so could you please help me now cause I don't think I can hold on any longer?"

god:

Stronger now: "O.k. I think I'm starting to understand. If you're there god please give me a sign or help me or something anything cause I've had enough now and really can't take any of this any more.So any little thing will do. so would you please help me?"

god:

Stronger now: "O.k.last chance to keep me near you cause it's been too long now for me and I have stepped to the edge of mental stability and can't do this any longer so now after all this time it would be nice to hear from you before I go and do things MY way and I know you don't want me to do that. So last chance big daddy!"

god:

Stronger now: "Well that answers that! I guess I was stupid for thinking god was real and wanted me to turn to him for guidence and peace and help and hope and stuff. I think I'll just say FUCK IT! and do this my own self! At least Soemething will get done even if it's the wrong thing."

god:


---------------------------------

Do you see my point? There never was an answer. It's not a conversation.

Buddy Ferris said...

Dear Stronger Now,

I appreciate your description of your experience; it's not an uncommon one, but it's by no means universal. You'll forgive me for not being overwhelmed by your rebuttal, I hope.

Not knowing your story, I wouldn't presume to offer any answer. I would encourage you in this one thing, though; don't allow your experience so far to persuade you that all of creation must be like you. Surely some is; certainly much is not.

Buddy

boomSLANG said...

B. Ferris: The difference between 'hope' and 'faith', and perhaps the reason the two concepts are offered separately, might be likened somewhat to the difference between 'wish' and 'know'.

Dear Buddy,

Okay, if I understand correctly--those believers who have "hope", only wish that a god exists, and that they have chosen to worship the right "God". Compared to---those believers who have "faith", and thus, know that a god exists, as well as know that they have chosen the right "God".

'Good so far? Actually, I don't see how this could be inaccurate considering the terms that you just put forth.

Okay, fairly assuming that you are of the latter group---and to eliminate the chance of equivocation on the word "know" by all parties involved---let's look at this:

Know: vb

1) To perceive directly; grasp in the mind with clarity or certainty.
2) To regard as true beyond doubt: I know she won't fail.
3) To have a practical understanding of, as through experience; be skilled in: knows how to cook.
4) To have fixed in the mind: knows her Latin verbs.
To have experience of: "a black stubble that had known no razor" (William Faulkner).

6) a) To perceive as familiar; recognize: I know that face.
b) To be acquainted with: He doesn't know his neighbors.
7) To be able to distinguish; recognize as distinct: knows right from wrong.

Ref: (American Heritage)
[bold added]

B. Ferris: Those who profess to be Christians might therefore be divided (for this discussion only, please) into those who hope they are on the right track and those who know so with a reasonable and adequate measure of certainty.

There's a problem, Buddy. Those who "profess to be Christian"? Is there any other way to "be" a "Christian"?... or Muslim; or Buddhist; or Red Sox fan; or pizza lover? No, there isn't. Once again, there is no quiz; you don't win a certificate at a bingo match. It's entirely up to the individual if they "profess" to be a proponent and/or believer in "something", in this case, "Christianity".

Let's examine this:

Buddy Ferris "professes" to be a True believer; Shirley Phelps "professes" to be a "True believer".

Are you telling me that the Phelps' clan only "hope" that they are right? Please.

I hope that you see that this renders your "hope it's true"/"know it's true" hypothesis moot. The only way it's not moot, is if some "believers" believe erroneously. And I'm sure you see the dilemma with that, right? Let's see:

Shirely Phelps is not persuaded that Buddy Ferris is enlightened; Buddy Ferris is not persuaded that Shirely Phelps is enlightened.

It's not settled, is it?

Back to the words "know" and "faith". If you, Buddy, the "True believer", e.g. the "True" Christian, "know" that a god exists, and that this god is "Christ", then why do you need "faith"? If "faith" is to believe without empirical evidence(as it is implied throughtout the bible), then it seems to me that to be cock-sure that Christianity is a Universal Truth, and all other religions and their respective personal creator-gods false, would render "faith" obsolete. If not, tell me where your "faith" applies, and kindly define it for me.

Even, if for a moment, we were to veer off the more common meaning of "faith", and use the pop-Theist definition, which is, to "trust" this, or that.... isn't that a totally redundant aspect if we(you) claim to "know" something? I think so, Buddy.

B. Buddy: My point in using the term 'true believer' was to differentiate those who know (and behave accordingly) from those who only hope so(and are easily provoked to fear by secular inquiry).

Speaking of "fear", you speak of fear allegedly caused be secularists, but for some reason leave out the fear that's instilled into the believer should they NOT "hope" that Christianity is true.

Seriously now, is to be "scared" into believing something a good reason to believe it, in your opinion? Is this "freewill" that we keep hearing about really "free" if there's threats for not making the right choice? If "God" is "love", where does "fear" fit in??? Why does a presumabley "ALL-loving" creator need to strike fear into it's creation? Can you explain that for me, please?

B. Ferris: You went on to ask if a Christian could be deceived into thinking themselves 'true believer'. Of course; no serious Christian would continue if they thought they were otherwise.[bold added]

Yikes! This, again, creates a big problem for me, because if they are "deceived", then OF COURSE, they wouldn't know that what they think they know is not consistent with being "serious", thus, they wouldn't know to NOT "continue". Actually, I'm surprised a man of your intelligence doesn't see the problem with that.

On another point, so those who only "hope" Christianity is true, aren't "serious" Christians??? So those who only "hope" that Christianity is true are no better off than those who deny it? Woah, that's harsh.

So, let me make sure I have a clear understanding of what you've put forth so far.

- One has to "KNOW" that Christ exists, in order to be a serious and True Christian.

- The myriads of self-professed Christians who stroll through here telling us "to just have Faith" and "don't give up hope" are deceived.

- Any Christian, 'serious' or not/'True' or not, can be deceived into thinking that what they "know" is true, and thus, this is why they erroneously continue in their belief, because they are deceived.

B. Ferris: It might be helpful to differentiate between those deceived and those encumbered. The former implies something done to them deliberately; the latter suggests baggage associated with non-central issues.

Of course, from my perspective, the religion itself "deliberately" deceives--similar to how you probably think Islam "deliberately" deceives. Nonetheless, one can be both deceived AND encumbered, I suppose.

B. Ferris: Prayer is conversation by definition, conversation is bi-directional and therefore dependent on both parties. A test of results based on one party's activity with repeatability being the criteria suggests a misunderstanding of the subject being tested.

Buddy, would you agree that the results of "prayer" are limited to one of following:

1) "Yes"

2) "No"

3 ) "Be patient"

If so, I might point out that you could get the same results from "praying" to a cookie jar. Nonetheless, you seem to be saying that you cannot "test" this aspect of a "God" that you "know" exists. True? Okay, then how CAN one test it? In other words, it seems that out of all these Theists who "know" their god exists, that one would be able to put forth an applicable 'test', yet, from what I see, "God" is always "affirmed" by what can't happen, or what "God" can't, or "won't" do. This is a red flag, I'm sorry.

Buddy Ferris, last try---can you change the trend? Can you back your "knowledge" that a god exists? Can you substantiate your claims that there is a "God", and that this "God" is "Yahweh/Jesus/Ghost"? Can you produce evidence that your belief is a Universal Truth, and that all other religious belief is categorically false? Can you prove that you are not one of the deceived believers that you claim do exist, they just don't know it?

BTW, Can you PLEASE not turn the subject into whether "boomslang" exists; or what he did last Sunday; or what Socrates said, or some other irrelevant tangent? I sure hope so. If not---if you cannot/will not simply back your belief with evidence--then you leave me, and I'm sure many others here, no choice but to believe that your are deceived.

Peace.

boomSLANG said...

Quote: "Dear Stronger Now,

I appreciate your description of your experience; it's not an uncommon one, but it's by no means universal. You'll forgive me for not being overwhelmed by your rebuttal, I hope.

Not knowing your story, I wouldn't presume to offer any answer. I would encourage you in this one thing, though; don't allow your experience so far to persuade you that all of creation must be like you. Surely some is; certainly much is not.


I'm curious about something; is the above suggesting/implying that this alleged "creator" shows favoritism towards some of it's creation? It allegedly "created" all humankind in it's image, yet, only chooses to engage "conversation"("answer prayer") at it's descretion with "some" of it's alleged "creation".

And furthermore, I see the word "encourage". Are the above comments to Stonger Now supposed to be "encourgement"?...that not all creation is "like you"? That seems like a really cruel thing to say, unless I've "misunderstood".... and I probably have.

stronger now said...

Buddy..." don't allow your experience so far to persuade you that all of creation must be like you. Surely some is; certainly much is not."


Why can't I rely on my own experience? How am I supposed to know that some of "creation" is not like me? What do you mean by "like me" anyway? Do you mean logical like me? Or perhaps, undesirable to god like me? Mabey, crazy like me? Demon posessed like me? All of the above? Oh right, you don't know.

Buddy Ferris said...

Dear Boomslang,

I mentioned earlier that deliberate deception wasn't included in my comments. We might pick up the issue, if you like.

Just a minor continuance on the true believer topic; you're correct, of course. Frightened people do things in hope of avoiding pain or loss. A minister, politician or parent using that fear as a prod is unwise, and perhaps immoral. Children raised in an atmosphere of fear find most of adult life a difficult adaptation.

Your proferred answers to prayer (yes, no, be patient) are taught in some venues, I guess, but they're inadequate, don't you think?

If I limited my conversation with my precious daughter (whom I love more than life itself) to those one-word responses, I'd have no relationship at all.

The list suggests that prayer is viewed as an acquisition process; we pray when we want/need something. More a vending machine relationship than one involving love and respect.

You ask if the creator might show favoritism. What should we call it when we give our high school graduate a car and our first grade graduate a bicycle? Surely, responding in relationship according to need, ability, and maturity has some justification. An observer might say it is just favoritism, particularly if they didn't even get a bicycle.

On your question of cruelty, I intend no harm or distress. My encouragement to the poster was in hope that they might view their experience as a subset of what is rather than the totality. I recall seasons of tremendous difficulty and discouragement in my life; times of anger, bitterness, even rage. Those who were cooler, clearer, wiser than I encouraged me along. Those days are past, probably more will come. Seasons.

Buddy

Buddy Ferris said...

Dear Stronger Now,
I intended no offense with the comment. The balance between what I know and have experienced against that which I don't know and have yet to experience is quite one sided. My tendency, naturally, is to view what I don't know and haven't experienced with expectation that nothing will me much different. It will. Much. Or at least, that seems to be the trend so far. Perhaps for you as well; I hope so.

Buddy

boomSLANG said...

Dear Buddy,

Am I missing something? We were/are discussing whether or not there is a possibilty that "True believers"(your term) can be "deceived" in their belief(s). Obviously, one will not "deliberately" deceive themselves. Whether someone else, or some "thing" else, is "deliberately" deceiving them is irrelevant, as the point is, they believe erroneously.

You, yourself, have now opened the door to the possibility that even "True believers" can be "deceived". When asked if this was a possibility, I believe your answer was, "of course". Thank you for that honesty, BTW.

B. Ferris: Frightened people do things in hope of avoiding pain or loss.

Obviously. And anyway, this is consistant with how I inquired about it; many people "believe", because they are SCARED not to believe. I asked you if that's a good reason to believe something.

B. Ferris: A minister, politician or parent using that fear as a prod is unwise, and perhaps immoral. Children raised in an atmosphere of fear find most of adult life a difficult adaptation.

Yes, "unwise". So if you would--- what makes threats of being tortured in eternal damnation "Wise"????

B. Ferris: Your proferred answers to prayer (yes, no, be patient) are taught in some venues, I guess, but they're inadequate, don't you think?

I think they're consistant with a "god" who's not there.

B. Ferris: If I limited my conversation with my precious daughter (whom I love more than life itself) to those one-word responses, I'd have no relationship at all.

True. So then I bet that since you love her so much, that when you are communicating with her, you are sure to do it in such way as to be fully understood. In other words, even if your answer is "no", and she asked, "but why?"....you wouldn't leave vague "traces" of an explanation lying around the house, and have it be incumbent upon her to deceifer the "hints", would you?

Furthermore, if you had four daughters, I'm gonna go out on a limb and say that you wouldn't show favoritism by concisely communicating with one, two, or three..and not the other(s) true? 'Thought so. I don't mean to offend, but I think your analogy fails.

B. Ferris: The list suggests that prayer is viewed as an acquisition process; we pray when we want/need something. More a vending machine relationship than one involving love and respect.

If you'd like, I can provide the bible verses that delineate concisely how prayer "works". Nonetheless, I agree that "prayer" boils down to "divine begging". Although, whether a child is either asking, or "begging, that his or her sibling be cured of leukemia, I can see how they wouldn't quite understand a "no" answer, especially coming from the only "Doctor" who is "omnipotent".

B. Ferris: You ask if the creator might show favoritism. What should we call it when we give our high school graduate a car and our first grade graduate a bicycle?

Smart? I mean, at least concerning a first grader behind the wheel of a 5.0 Mustang.

B. Ferris: Surely, responding in relationship according to need, ability, and maturity has some justification. An observer might say it is just favoritism, particularly if they didn't even get a bicycle.

Then again, there is "want"..and then there is "need". Children "NEED" their parents....so I can't see there being "justification" in a "NO" answer if a child prays for an ill parent. Can you? Can you tell me how that is a good "plan"?

B. Ferris: On your question of cruelty, I intend no harm or distress. My encouragement to the poster was in hope that they might view their experience as a subset of what is rather than the totality.

Obviously, there's a great deal of disageement on "what is". You claim a specific supernatural god "is". But again, until you can substantiate(if you even care to) such a god and/or such a realm exists, then I say "nature" is "what is", and the poster's experiences with prayer reflect that. Coincidence?

Peace.

Buddy Ferris said...

Dear Boomslang,

I wish I had easy answers for questions like your last. I don't know why some are healed in response to prayer and some are not. I spent time sitting with a 10-year old in the hospital with leukemia, giving his mom and dad a break after weeks of chemo, bone marrow transplant, and the long decline after it failed. Sweat kid; he treated me like his granddad. We prayed together in the time before he died. He told me he was OK with dying; his faith was quite clear in his heart and mind. He knew.

My own experience with talking to God over the years has been a checkered one, perhaps rising and falling due to my own willingness or lack thereof. It's been rich lately.

Buddy

Buddy Ferris said...

Dear boomslang,
You've written a couple of times about 'professing' to be a Christian as the means to becoming one, and about 'believing' because one might be afraid not to do so. A fellowship I attended as a teen leaned that way, if I remember correctly. Was that your experience?

Personally, I don't think anyone actually believes out of fear. Perhaps they may say they do and put on the appearance they think is expected, but do they believe? Or do they just hope they're getting it right, acting the right way?

Similarly with profession, if someone professes (affirms) they're a Christian, does that make them one truly? If I profess to be a Hegelian, does that make me one? Or does it mean something more to actually believe and know.

Complaints regarding faith requirements in the Bible miss the fact that more is said about knowing. 'You can know' is the summary premise of many portions of the new testament.

Buddy

boomSLANG said...

B. Ferris: I wish I had easy answers for questions like your last. I don't know why some are healed in response to prayer and some are not

Oh, but there IS an easy answer, Buddy. The easiest and most likely of answers. Albeit, the least comforting. Nonetheless, it's a terrible injustice, isn't it?....that a child is robbed of life so young? It would be hard to be a parent in that position and not believe that justice is done in a "next life". Of course, that justice is only extended to one group of people, sadly. Right?

If you answer only one thing---to what do you attribute the "hits"(answered prayers) in a Muslim children's hospital? "Luck"? Or is it really Jesus somehow "pinch-hitting" for Muhammad? It's a legit' question that deserves a reasonable answer( if you're up for it)

B. Ferris: I spent time sitting with a 10-year old in the hospital with leukemia, giving his mom and dad a break after weeks of chemo, bone marrow transplant, and the long decline after it failed. Sweat kid; he treated me like his granddad. We prayed together in the time before he died. He told me he was OK with dying;

It's commendable that you offer compassion in that regard. 'Seems like the humane thing to do. But I must ask, what if he wasn't "OK with dying"? Surely, if you gave any terminally ill child a "choice", they'd choose to live, over die, don't you think? In other words, there's a difference between accepting the inevitable, and being "OK" with it.

...his faith was quite clear in his heart and mind. He knew.

Yes, the same way the passed-down family-faith of a Muslim or Buddhist child is "clear" in their "heart and mind". Nonetheless, the children are at peace....every one of them.

Peace.

Buddy Ferris said...

Boomslang,
You answer mine, I'll answer yours.

Good question: Haven't any idea. Let's speculate anyway; I presume Muslims pray to Allah regarding their children just like we do. Perhaps God is, as the scripture says, no respecter of persons. He makes the rain fall on the just and the unjust, even Arabs. C.S. Lewis was not averse to an Arab pursuing Allah and finding God. I wont be offended if God listens to every voice on earth and answers as He chooses.

Buddy

boomSLANG said...

B. Ferris: Personally, I don't think anyone actually believes out of fear. Perhaps they may say they do and put on the appearance they think is expected, but do they believe? Or do they just hope they're getting it right, acting the right way?

Buddy,

Are you now saying that there's a difference in general, and/or, in consequences, between a Christian who "gets it right" genuinely(because it feels "right"), and one who is only, as you put it, "acting the right way"? I assume you would tell me that the word of God/Son/Ghost is intrinsically "right", correct?....that regardless of what we believe is "right" and "wrong", God's word trumps it, correct?...we couldn't possibly know "right" from "wrong" without "God"?

Again, so what difference does it make if a "Christian" is only "acting right"..i.e.. the way they're allegedly told to act? We've(you've) already established that "hope" is NOT enough to be considered a "serious" Christian. Nonetheless, the whole point of having "laws" bequeathed to us is because we allegedly don't "know" any better on our own---so it seems to me that if you label a Christian "not serious" because they are merely "acting" the part, that that defeats the premise for having and adhering to the alleged "Divine guidance" in the first place. That's like getting mad at a two yr-old for only "acting" in accordance with what you say, and not KNOWING that what you say is "right", before the fact.

B. Ferris: Similarly with profession, if someone professes (affirms) they're a Christian, does that make them one truly? If I profess to be a Hegelian, does that make me one? Or does it mean something more to actually believe and know.

I want to truly move past this issue.

If you are fully prepared to tell someone else that they are NOT a "True", or "real", or "serious" Christian--whether they think it's true, or not--then likewise, be prepared to have them tell YOU the same. See? It doesn't make a bit of flippin' difference to you, does it? No..because you, and ONLY you, determine if you hold to belief, or philosophy--it's not for someone else to decide.

Notwithstanding, Buddy, even though you've tried your heart out to make a distinction between "believers", and "True believers", it appears that either can be deceived. Anf it's not that you took my "bait", it's that the philosophy behind it is flawed.

__________________________________

Mr Ferris, this exchange, too, is becoming quite lengthy--could you specify which question you'd like addressed? Thanks.

Buddy Ferris said...

Bear boomslang,

You asked what difference does it make if a "Christian" is only "acting right"?

Doing right things is commendable of course, and we shouldn't disparage the effort anyone expends to do right, particularly when it suggests the higher motivations of concern for others, a commitment to justice, and so on.

Doing right things out of fear of penalty is understandable. Not speeding to avoid a ticket, not stealing to avoid arrest, both are lesser motivations but certainly acceptable to us.

Becoming a Christian has behavior implications, of course, but they aren't primary. Christianity isn't something you join by qualifying according to a performance standard.

The first to be called Christians were so identified because they believed in Jesus. It was and remains a question of belief.

Many here have had to come to grips with the fact that they honestly do not believe. Some are angry, a few are bitter after discovering that years were lost because of it.

So to answer your question directly, it makes all the difference in the world. If you believe, all the next things are relatively easy to discover. If you don't believe, 'acting like' you do will only sustain you a little ways.

Is that an adequate answer?

Buddy

stronger now said...

Buddy,

Of course I was offended. For a while I felt god cared about some and not others, and I was one of the others. Then I came to my senses.

I am done with you sir, and you preconceptions.

Buddy Ferris said...

Dear Stronger Now,

My loss.

Your feelings are valid, by the way, and probably not uncommon.

SN: For a while I felt god cared about some and not others, and I was one of the others.

Bailing out is a reasonable response and undeserving of criticism. I offer none. Perhaps we'll cross paths again.

Buddy

boomSLANG said...

B. Ferris: If you believe, all the next things are relatively easy to discover. If you don't believe, 'acting like' you do will only sustain you a little ways.

Buddy,

I'd like to point out a previous distinction that you made concerning mere "belief" and being a "True believer". But first, obviously, one can still "believe" something to be true and not "know" it to be true, right? Right. And in my experience, this is the application of "belief" that most Christians adhere to....i.e..Member(s) of the Christian Faith.

On the other hand, you've basically gone on record to say that this "hope" type of "faith" does not a "serious Christian" make. The 'True Believer' "knows" Christanity to be FACT, thus, why they "believe" it.

That said, when you speak of the people here who've been hurt and who have bitterness, etc., bare in mind that these are people who simply surrendered to the fact that they could no longer pretend to "know" what they didn't "know". It is an honest stance, and you, yourself, went on further to even say that to "act" like you "know"..i.e.."hope" it's true, doesn't elevate one to any better of a position than one who never invesitgates it, and/or flat-out denies it.

Now, you can stop me here if I'm off mark, but I don't think you can, because I've been paying careful attention to the terms/explanations you've set forth.

On another note, you've also told one former believer, quote: "don't allow your experience[non-experience] so far to persuade you that all of creation must be like you. Surely some is; certainly much is not."

So, apparently, if what you've said thus far is true and correct, then it would seem that some people "like" him or her[or me], simply CANNOT "know". To review, you said, "If you believe, all the next things are relatively easy to discover." This is moot, because we've already established that merely to "believe" falls short. One MUST KNOW, then belief follows.

So firstly, can you explain why these people who cannot "know" would hypothetically be culpable on an alleged "judgement day"?

Secondly, and probably more importantly, if the "knowledge" you've aquired that Christianity is a Universal 'Truth'---one that Buddy Ferris claims is NOT of a "faith" in the "hope" sense of the word, but FACT---then these "facts" could theoretically be taught and/or demonstrated. Unless I've misunderstood, we are not talking about some "unseen" hypothetical.

Now, I know you probably tire of people asking how you "KNOW" that Christianity is not "hope", but "fact". But I don't tire of wondering how you, and other Theists know this, especially if it's something that can be taught to others; especially if there's threats of eternal torment for my lack of "knowlwedge".

If it's not something that can be taught; if "some" people "like" us simply cannot know what Buddy Ferris knows, then again, how are we culpable????????

i.e.....anxiously awaiting your evidence.

Peace.

Buddy Ferris said...

Dear boomslang,

Things pointed out as obviously this or that usually aren't; such is the case you describe. Our modern use of 'believe' is a weak version of 'know'. It's grammatically equivalent to 'I think so'; not a statement that will hold up in court or on which anyone will base significant action.

The biblical use is emphatic and implies acceptance, trust, irrevocable reliance upon the truth of that which is believed. The two uses are dissimilar.*

You persist in asking how one might know; what evidence is available. I've suggested to others here that we describe rules of evidence we're willing to accept. Here are some suggestions:

1. Personal experience counts, but should be objectively evaluated
2. Eyewitness testimony counts, but should be objectively evaluated
3. Historical records count, context is relevant for evaluation
4. Scientific description counts; speculation on what the description means is OK if identified as such
5.

Is that a reasonable starting place? Feel free to add or remove.

Buddy




*The development of belief is quite visible in teens. At some point, they are no longer able to accept their parents affirmations about God or truth or life but must have reasons of their own to believe (trust, act on). They pull back, regroup on their own terms, then move forward.

Most of us remember going through the process. My father's God is now my God. Or not.

boomSLANG said...

Dear Buddy,

If I said or implied something as "obvious" and a specific "idea" wasn't obvious, then I stand corrected. Okay, I'll try to refrain from that.

Nothwithstanding, I generally, when engaging Theists, use the more common definitions of "faith", "believe", "know", etc. You seem to be re-defining certain terms, and subsequently, I'm of the understanding that we are/were using YOUR definitions. Which, this is fine, because it leaves little room for equivocation. Nonetheless, there's apparently still some room for completely disregarding what I've pointed out.

Buddy Ferris: "The biblical use is emphatic and implies acceptance, trust, irrevocable reliance upon the truth of that which is believed."

Buddy?...I don't give a rat's hind-quarters what the bible's definition is at this point, okay? Again, I tried incorporating the more traditional biblical terms and definitions in this discussion early on, but those didn't seem to work for you, and/or, you ended up changing them. Let's review:

Buddy Ferris: "The difference between 'hope' and 'faith', and perhaps the reason the two concepts are offered separately, might be likened somewhat to the difference between 'wish' and 'know'.

Those who profess to be Christians might therefore be divided (for this discussion only, please) into those who hope they are on the right track and those who know so with a reasonable and adequate measure of certainty.

My point in using the term 'true believer' was to differentiate those who know (and behave accordingly) from those who only hope so(and are easily provoked to fear by secular inquiry).
"

Those Christians who "KNOW" it's true; compared to those Christians who merely "hope" it's true. Repeat, you said, uneqivocally, that the "faith" of a "serious Chrisitian" means to "KNOW".

Then you said: You[boomSLANG] persist in asking how one might know; what evidence is available.

No, I'm not interested in how "one might know"; I'm interested in how YOU know...and you, likewise, "persist" in circumventing the request.

In any event, I think I'm done doing the goose chase, Buddy. It's fun and interesting, but only up to a point. And I think we're at that point--the point where you unceasingly refuse to demonstrate how you "KNOW" what you keep emphatically stating that you "KNOW", and we get nowhere.

If you want to keep playing, then here, I'll make it easy for you. Here is what I WILL NOT accept for one's evidence that Christianity is a Universal Truth, and ALL other religiously revealed Truths are false:

1) The Holy Bible(because you won't accept the Book of Mormon, or the Holy Qu'ran)

2) Personal experience(because you won't accept the personal experiences of a Mormon, or Muslim)

And also baring in mind, of course, that even "True Believers" can be "deceived"...i.e.."of course"(they can)

Best regards in the future.

Buddy Ferris said...

Dear boomslang,

I apologize for the biblical reference; it wasn't helpful. I hadn't intended to use the bible as an authority. Thanks for enduring my presence.

I've been looking for a way to avoid being your enemy.

I've not been specific about evidence yet as this site is understandably hostile to most offerings, regardless of merit. The hostility mixed with anger is sometimes transferred from issue to author. Being here is much like being in a minefield; I try not to offend or step on anything painful.

I suggested rules of evidence a few times; exchanges here seem quite cavalier on that point.

My thought in precisely defining 'belief' is the point you raise; some believe, others can't.

Might I suggest that we do include personal experience, objectively evaluated. I had more expected it to be limited to yours and mine in the course of conversation. You may include Mormons and Muslims if you like, under the same objective evaluation requirement.

What's next?

Buddy

boomSLANG said...

B.F./B.G.,

The problem is that, like good chess players, we can reasonably predict the other's next move....

If you feel like this "evidence" issue puts you in a perpetual state of "checkmate", then maybe there's a reason for it. Maybe examine that reason before continuing on this particular website....... 'only a suggestion.

Nonetheless, before we delve too deeply into the qualifications of "evidence", I think it would be wise to FIRST agree on if there's more than one way for some-"thing" to "exist". Agreed? Nonetheless...your move, either way.

Buddy Ferris said...

Dear boomslang,

No problem at all. Feel free to elaborate on your 'exist' stipulation so we're both clear. Meanwhile...

Allow me to introduce myself. I'm almost 60, I've been a believer most of my life.

The normal events of life and death gave me opportunity to question my conclusions, much like some here have described. We lost our second child to miscarriage; we wept, it seems, for days. The trappings of religion fell away; I remember being reduced by it to just a few things I knew for certain. 'God is' headed the short list. I was sure of that much; perhaps I'll be able to describe why.

Some of the folks on this site have suffered loss and concluded there was therefore no God. A dying child, a parent lost way too early, abuse and suffering, unanswered prayer, all too much to bear for anyone. Some emerge believing with greater clarity, others disbelieving emphatically.

If any one event might yield two conclusions, I'm open to suggestions on how to proceed.

Buddy

boomSLANG said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
boomSLANG said...

Dear Buddy,

60ish? You look much younger.

B. Ferris: Some of the folks on this site have suffered loss and concluded there was therefore no God. A dying child, a parent lost way too early, abuse and suffering, unanswered prayer, all too much to bear for anyone. Some emerge believing with greater clarity, others disbelieving emphatically.

True, "some" of the people on this site have suffered loss--i.e...loss of loved ones due to death. But untrue that this is why the bulk of them/us no longer believe. Sure, it may show clarity/reason to the non-believer in hindsight, but this after the fact. This is AFTER months, or even years, of careful deliberation; this is after careful examination of the nagging cognitive dissonance that "comes with the turf" of religious belief. So I'm pretty sure it's a rare case that a Christian would deconvert the day after a loved one passes.

Once more, Buddy, as commonly defined, we cannot "examine" a "god" with empirical/measurable means. Agreed?(I'm assuming "yes", 'else we'd have gotten something to examine by now, from you, or some other Theist)

That said, at some point we must rely, unfortunately, on the subjective attributes put forth by those who INSIST that a god exists; that this "God" is the "One True God", and that all other gods are figments of people's imaginations....i.e.."deceived" Fair so far?

Buddy, I've done my damndest to try to come to agreement with
you(for sake of discussion) as to these attributes, as well as, the other commonly used theological terms such as "faith", "true", "believer", "True Believer", and so on, and so on.

Thus far, you've 'customized' some of the broader more commonly used definitions. You've made distinctions, that in my mind, have raised some serious problems, conceptually and/or philosophically.

For instance, you've made the distinction between two meanings of the word "faith". According to you, there's the type of "faith" that means to "wish", or "hope"---and then there's the type that means to "know". You put yourself in the latter group, unless I've grossly misunderstood.

You went on further to say that it is you, the "serious Christian", e.g. the 'True Believer', who "knows" that Christianity is a universal truth; that "Christ" does, in fact, "exist".

Again, if we qualify your term, 'True Believer', then the implication is that there are "un-true" believers, or "lesser" believers---in any case, "believers" who do NOT "know" that "God"(biblegod) exists , but have "faith" that "He" exists in the traditional sense of the word. But of course, this distinction is moot, because when asked if one could be deceived into thinking they are a 'True Believer', you said:

"Of course; no serious Christian would continue if they thought they were otherwise."

I repeat; the problem is blatant. If they are "deceived", then whether they 'think' they are "serious" has no baring on anything if they are "continuing" erroneously, due to deception.

All that aside, even if one wishes to "continue" to "believe", deceived, or not, I could not care less. Seriously. If Tom Cruise has a "belief" that lizards from Mars are currently shape-shifting into "humans" and wander among us?(he does)...FABULOUS! I do NOT care. I guess I'm an Alizardist, then?

The problem, Buddy, is the types of "beliefs" that demand/promote that the entire world's population "must" conform to said belief. The problem is when said beliefs cannot be demonstrated to be objectively/universally true. Furthermore, it's the implicit threats for non-conformity of said belief; it's the unceasing insistance that something "exists" that cannot be substantiated.

Okay, fine, if you want to use "revelation" and personal testimony to substantiate?....if you insist that that is "evidence"? Then we must accept "other" revealed truths, and the testimonies of people from "other" religions/geographical locations, as well. But of course, the Christian does not qualify those things as "evidence" coming from others.

All that said, here you are, Buddy....still trying to convince us/me that your so-far-unproven-subjective-belief is a universal reality.

Exist:

1) To have actual being; be real.
2) To have life; live: one of the worst actors that ever existed.
3) To live at a minimal level; subsist: barely enough income on which to exist.
4) To continue to be; persist: old customs that still exist in rural areas.

Ref: American Heritage

Buddy Ferris said...

Dear boomslang,

I'm disheartened to hear your news about Tom. I had hoped, as I expect we all had hoped, that the lizard thing was finally behind him. Sad. It does point out, though, that there are useful areas of agreement we might discover. I apparently have been an unknowing alizardist for some time, and I owe you a debt of gratitude for bringing me to that awareness.

Back to earth.

I've offered some thoughts on faith and belief precisely to avoid the 'common use' to which you refer. Without intending criticism, I note that your use of the words and my use are different.

Early on, I thought both faith and belief to be imprecise and elusive. As 'commonly' presented, I felt I was mentally straining for something unreachable and undefined. The usage seemed to offer an approach to life that was about as useful as 'be cheerful, and it'll be fine!' I've paid my blood dues to arrive at what I consider to be a reasonable place among reasonable people.

To be fair on the question of personal experience, we should probably examine representative narratives from each milieu; what I envisioned, however, was more limited to my experience and yours, objectively evaluated to our mutual satisfaction.

Your definition of 'exist' works for me.

I suspect we think in similar fashion; your 'fair so far' milestones are not unreasonable, even though the exasperation shows a little.

Buddy

boomSLANG said...

Buddy: Back to earth.

Is that an admission that "Scientology" is outlandish?..and/or, "out of this world"?

If so, that's remarkable, because since I'm no longer inside the "Christian bubble", I can see things about Christianity that are every bit as "outlandish" as the notion that shape-shifting reptilian beings live on a distant planet, and commute to earth as a conspiracy to overtake us, thus, being the downfall of humankind. Oh well.

Buddy: I've offered some thoughts on faith and belief precisely to avoid the 'common use' to which you refer. Without intending criticism, I note that your use of the words and my use are different.

Again, I'm happy to use YOUR definitions, which, in doing so, I've found some problems with those concepts...e.g.."True Believer", compared to "believer". Nonetheless, I'm apprehensive about covering those issues for a third, fourth, or fifth time, and would like to move on to the "meat 'n potatoes".

Correct me if I'm wrong: In order to be convinced that Tom's "Lizard-men" do in fact "exist", you'd need "evidence" that they "exist", correct?

Buddy: Your definition of 'exist' works for me.

Good. Progess. Okay, waiting.

boom'

Buddy Ferris said...

Dear boomslang,

Your summation is correct. In order to believe in alien lizards, I'd need good reason to do so. Should the two of us choose to discuss the alien lizards, we'd need some vocabulary and evidentiary standards.

Without straying too far from the heart of the matter, I offer that believing in God is a reasonable position. I'll grant you your rationalistic analysis of scientific evidence to the contrary without necessarily agreeing with your conclusions. What remains is the reasonableness of our positions. OK so far?

Need we include the positions others hold or the arguments others present? Or might the exchange be more honest if we limit it to those positions we hold personally.

I'd prefer to avoid the disconnected exchanges (kitchen sink arguments) where the participant's personal beliefs are mixed with content that they don't support personally. That which I hold as my own in good conscience should be able to stand on its' own.

I've acknowledged here the validity of a position held honestly. I've politely challenged the assumptions which to me appear to be held with more feeling than content. The emotionally charged issues of belief and faith lend themselves to honest consideration, but for many, it's a frightening place for honest inquiry; threatening to many who fear being wrong or right because of what is perhaps required of them thereafter.

That which we see and touch offers us an accumulation of information over a lifetime. We choose deliberately how we interpret the information. Thoughts on the choice?

Buddy

boomSLANG said...

Buddy Ferris: Your summation is correct. In order to believe in alien lizards, I'd need good reason to do so. Should the two of us choose to discuss the alien lizards, we'd need some vocabulary and evidentiary standards.

Buddy,

Yes, provided neither party puts forth terms that are open-ended, and/or, inconclusive. For example, if I'm "pro-Alien Lizard", and at the end of my list of terms I made a distinction between Lizardians, and True Lizardians, you might inquire as to who, and what, qualifies one, and disqualifies the other. Is that much reasonable?

Assuming so, say you asked me if even "True Lizardians" can be deceived, and I said something to the effect of, "of course; no serious Lizardian would continue if they thought they were otherwise."

Wouldn't that at least raise an eyebrow?

I just hope I've finally made my point of this. After all, I could rightfully disqualify the whole discussion on such a statement...i.e..if one is "deceived", by definition, obviously, they don't know it.(I hope it was appropriate to say "obviously" there)

Buddy Ferris: I offer that believing in God is a reasonable position. I'll grant you your rationalistic analysis of scientific evidence to the contrary without necessarily agreeing with your conclusions. What remains is the reasonableness of our positions. OK so far?

No, not OK---didn't you just basically define "faith"? In other words, if you have decided a priori, that you will continue to "believe" your position, even in light of the scientific evidence to the contrary, isn't that called "faith"?... in the traditional sense of the word?

I think so, Buddy..... so again, what's the point of all this, then? Couldn't I rightfully disqualify this debate on that ground, too? I think so. Yes, despite what I offer to support my case, scientific, or not, in the end Buddy Ferris says, "I believe anyway, because I know that what I believe is a Universal Truth"[hypothetically paraphrased to make the point]

Buddy: Need we include the positions others hold or the arguments others present? Or might the exchange be more honest if we limit it to those positions we hold personally.

Continuing from above---in the end, the "decision" cannot be based merely on the "reasonableness" of our(your and my) positions. Why?..because you are claiming your, thus far, subjective "truth" as a Universal "Truth". Don't you see the problem with this?

Buddy Ferris: I'd prefer to avoid the disconnected exchanges (kitchen sink arguments) where the participant's personal beliefs are mixed with content that they don't support personally. That which I hold as my own in good conscience should be able to stand on its' own.

Right, and forgive me if this sounds crass, but your position, thus far, doesn't stand on it's own. That's why I await credible evidence that your religious belief is a MORE than just a subjective belief; that's it a Universal Truth, as you claim, and all others are false(as you implicitly claim).

Buddy Ferris: I've acknowledged here the validity of a position held honestly. I've politely challenged the assumptions which to me appear to be held with more feeling than content. The emotionally charged issues of belief and faith lend themselves to honest consideration, but for many, it's a frightening place for honest inquiry; threatening to many who fear being wrong or right because of what is perhaps required of them thereafter.

Buddy?.... I'll READILY concede that my Atheist worldview is WRONG, once I detect, with my physical senses--the same senses that ANYONE uses to say they "KNOW" something---evidence for any god...and mind you, it doesn't have to be "Yahweh"; it's an equal opportunity for ALL known gods and their respective Theists, to SHOW ME THE EVIDENCE.

How's that for exasperation? = O

Buddy Ferris said...

Dear boomslang,

If I understand your response, you're concerned that I would ignore or reject evidence you might present, without adequate reason for doing so. Shall we continue and see if you're correct?

You've laid out ground rules to which I have no particular objections.

You've somewhat clarified your position on belief and faith. We can avoid those terms if you like.

I've made no universal truth claim, nor have I written regarding other religions with scientology being the lone exception.

You've heroically offered to concede that your atheistic world view is wrong if presented with some feel-see-touch-sense encounter with God.

Well begun.

boomSLANG said...

Buddy Ferris: If I understand your response, you're concerned that I would ignore or reject evidence you might present, without adequate reason for doing so. Shall we continue and see if you're correct?

Dear Buddy,

Actually, after reading that?.... no, we shouldn't continue....that is, unless there can be a mutual understanding that it is impossible for me to "present" scientific evidence, or otherwise, that a "God" does not/cannot exist. Much in the same way I cannot put forth scientific evidence that invisible green imps don't live on a distant planet in another galaxy.

Buddy, we must agree that the onus of substantiating a "God" falls in the lap of the one making the claim that there IS such a "thing". What I am asking, is that "science" be qualified as criteria for any positive claims put forth. Why?... because it's the most reliable, least biased, method we have. If I'm wrong, tell me what method is better for determining if something "exists", or not, preferably with references, and we'll go from there.

Buddy Ferris: You've somewhat clarified your position on belief and faith. We can avoid those terms if you like.

Frankly, I don't see how we will avoid these terms, since, from where I sit, your argument doesn't excede a "belief" until you provide adaquate evidence that it does.

Buddy Ferris: I've made no universal truth claim

Oops!...then there's a misunderstanding somewhere along the course of communication.

I was of the understanding that we were debating the existance of the "Christian" deity, because.....well, because you are a "True Believer" in "Christ", and because you "know" that said deity "exists", and is "real", and that all other gods and their respective religions are "not real". I await your corrections, if any.

Buddy Ferris: You've heroically offered to concede that your atheistic world view is wrong if presented with some feel-see-touch-sense encounter with God.

Yes, yes...once I experience a "god", first hand, with the same physical senses that you presumably use to detect your Jesus, I will HAPPILY renounce my Atheist world-view. 100% correct.(baring in mind that I won't necessarily accept the provided "plan")

Disclaimer: If you "detect" your deity with some sort of "meta" sensory perception?... I'll consider a disqualification, unless you can demonstrate this "extra-sensory" perception, thus, showing that you are not merely deceived into thinking you have this "extra-sensory" perception.

Let me know.

Buddy Ferris said...

Dear boomSLANG,

No problem at all. I'll gladly concede to science the ability to observe and describe the physical realm. I'll reserve judgment on what the description means, of course. Drawing conclusions from a description enters the realm of philosophy.

For example, Darwin concluded by observation and analysis that women are by nature, physiology, and character inferior to men. His observation and description were scientific; his conclusion was not. It appears to have been based on presuppositional error, biased by cultural prejudice against women in general. The roots are identifiable and irrelevant, but the event illustrates how an objective observation may be subjectively biased.

On the other hand, we can observe the chemical processes occurring at the cellular level during plant growth and 'conclude' several things about the process. CO2 is taken in, O2 is released, plants and animals are ecosystem impact elements; that sort of thing.


My allusion to true believers, since you raise the issue again, was solely for the purpose of differentiating between those who adhere to a religion for reasons other than belief and those who actually buy in to the whole. As yet, I've made no claims beyond that. Perhaps 'Christians more in name than in belief' would have been a useful distinction.

Otherwise, we're good. You needn't assume any responsibility for proving the non-existence of anything.

I hope you're enjoying the 4th. I'm at work, obviously goofing off for the moment. I need a brain-break from time to time.

Buddy

boomSLANG said...

Buddy Ferris: I'll gladly concede to science the ability to observe and describe the physical realm.

.....observe, describe, and test the physical realm. Is your alleged deity testable/falsifiable? If not, I'm leaning towards a disqualification, unless, again, if you can demonstrably reproduce the "extra-sensory" means by which you detect this untestable "being".

Buddy Ferris: For example, Darwin concluded by observation and analysis that women are by nature, physiology, and character inferior to men. His observation and description were scientific; his conclusion was not

Define "inferior". And did he test his hypothesis, I wonder(?)

Feel free to get the ball rolling, provided the above passes inspection. For the time being, I'll tentatively ask: Is your deity physical/material/tangible, or non-physical/immaterial/intangible?

As for my 4th...I've out-grown watching the local red-necks blow stuff up, but thanks.

But hey, how 'bout blowin' this thread up with some "evidence"?...wha'da ya say?

Brian said...

Dear boomSLANG,

Since you seemed curious on the subject of Darwin's science, you'll enjoy this. In Descent of man Darwin wrote: "The chief distinction in the intellectual powers of the two sexes is shewn by man's attaining to a higher eminence, in whatever he takes up, than can woman - whether requiring deep thought, reason, or imagination, or merely the use of the senses and hands"(Chapter 19, 1871 edition).

An observation by Vogt bears on this subject: he says, "It is a remarkable circumstance, that the difference between the sexes, as regards the cranial cavity, increases with the development of the race, so that the male European excels much more the female, than the negro the negress. Welcker confirms this statement of Huschke from his measurements of negro and German skulls."

Of course, it was all quite scientific. Read the references for yourself for his definition of inferior, if you like.

Much of the western world tried to justify expanded discrimination against women. Even some clerics got on the bandwagon.

As I said, science can observe and describe (alright, and test), but 'conclude'? Perhaps, perhaps not.

Buddy

boomSLANG said...

Okay, thanks for that, Buddy/Brian. But that doesn't exactly "blow up" this thread, IMO. I think "evidence" for your deity would. Perhaps you have some, perhaps not.

Buddy Ferris said...

Dear Shirley/Boomslang,

How then shall we proceed? Shall we rehash arguments we've both heard? If I were to offer a classical defense for you to attack, would that do more than define our position as adversaries?

Webmaster recounts for us his encounter with God at age eleven; a life changing, mind changing experience that is still vivid in his memory. The emotional cleansing and reality of that moment has never left me, and as I write about it now, it comes alive once again.

So here we have a professed atheist's account of a personal, tangible, thoroughly persuasive encounter, one which has been experienced by many, observed by more, described in literature, and rejected in this case after years of dissuasive experience.

Webmaster describes his unfortunate exposure to church foolishness. There was the pastor who removed our friend and his wife from ministry because they weren't thoroughly persuaded to the dogma he (the pastor) felt was essential. Then there was the incredible church that insisted our friend was 'living in sin' with his 2nd wife, not having been adequately divorced from his 1st; he was actually advised to separate from his wife and live celibate. Their next encounter was with a group who would have fit well in the early Crusades, and our friend eventually left it all behind, understandably.

Similar experiences are not uncommon. In some churches, divorce is the only unforgivable sin. They can find a place for a repentant adulterer or murderer, but not for a divorced, single mom and her kids. I've seen it; dealt with it more than once.

I've never been badly treated by the church. Untold thousands have been. It's incredible what folks will think or do under the name of church and Christianity.

These actions which we observe and abhor have little if any legitimate connection to God or Christianity. They may call themselves what they will, but I doubt God will claim them.

Some pray, "God, bless this work." Perhaps God answers, "I can't bless that. It's wicked, and it stinks." Then they complain because He didn't help them do their wickedness.

I presume you have your own narrative. Care to hit the high points here?

Buddy

.:webmaster:. said...

Buddy said: "These actions which we observe and abhor have little if any legitimate connection to God or Christianity. They may call themselves what they will, but I doubt God will claim them.
"


Buddy. I did not leave Christianity because of my experiences with Christians. You missed the point entirely. What those experiences showed me is that there is nothing magical going on in Christianity. It is all self-delusion. The feelings, the mystical ecstasy, the supposed encounters with God -- it's all a tribute to human imagination and our capacity to visualize into existence (in our minds) things that don't exist. It's story. It's myth. It's the spirit of invention.

Buddy: on every one of these threads, you've purposely derailed the thread topic and attempted to, or succeeding, leading the discussion down irrelevant rabbit trails, completely off topic. Your tone of writing comes off as sincere, but your approach is that of a typical, self-appointed evangelist.

Bud, Brian, or whatever: Let's, for the sake of discussion, agree that science is totally inadequate for determining anything whatsoever.

Ok, you're in computers, right? And science is meaningless now. So, how are you going to fix the network now?

Oh, never mind, that's not the same thing. We aren't talking about ALL science, just the science that seems to contradict Christianity. Ok, fine. All science that contradicts Christianity will be assumed false.

Feel good? It's all nonsense, and wrong.

Better?

Now, that's decided, so we can dismiss that discussion.

Now, provide some evidence that your permanently scarred, un-dead, flying, god-man-on-a-stick, who has a flaming sword and fire shooting out his eyes, ready to rain wrath down upon those like me who think he's just a made up character in a story book, and promises and eternal home for me in the bowels of HIS sadistic torture chamber.

This is the heart of this discussion, Buddy.

That some magical religion is the explanation for unsatisfactorily questions is certainly one possibility, but is that explanation likely? Based on the historic propensity for human beings to assign divine attributes to the various parts of nature not clearly understood (ex: lightning, thunder, tornadoes, volcanic eruptions, sunrise, shooting stars, eclipses, etc.), it seems much more likely that those processes of nature (abiogenesis, evolution, etc.) of which we are in the early stages of understanding, are all natural, too. Magic has nothing to do with reality, except when used in a poetic way as in "the magic of life."

So, from here on out Buddy, please keep on topic in whatever post you take up residence. Go back to Dan Barker's article above, and comment on that. Please refrain from purposely derailing the conversation with your amateurish Baptist apologetics.

Thanks.

boomSLANG said...

Dear Brian or Buddy,

Feel freely obligated to address me by the pseudo' I've chosen for myself. (Don't feel bad, it's not that your attempt at humor wasn't unfunny)

Buddy Ferris: How then shall we proceed?

I've told you, let's see...quite possibly a dozen times, how "we" procede; it would be virtually impossible for me to make it ANY %$#@ing clearer to you without coming across in a manner that wouldn't exactly lend itself to keeping this discussion going. No offense, but to be quite honest, I'm losing interest.....fairly quickly.(not that you care, or I'd expect you to care)

Buddy Ferris: Shall we rehash arguments we've both heard? If I were to offer a classical defense for you to attack, would that do more than define our position as adversaries?

More time-buying, goose-chase tactics.

You make a claim that you know something; I ask: how do you "know" it. The request, itself, is very elementary. I'm sorry if you feel "trapped", and/or, that my questions are "bait", but that's not my problem. And again, perhaps it's a good indicator that the "truth" of your belief is limited to your own mind. Which, BTW, I will readily concede to that much any time you'd like.

Buddy Ferris: Webmaster recounts for us his encounter with God at age eleven; a life changing, mind changing experience that is still vivid in his memory. The emotional cleansing and reality of that moment has never left me, and as I write about it now, it comes alive once again.

I hope you'll forgive me, but I fail to see the point. He further "recounts" how he now realizes that that was a clear case of self-deception; he "believed" he was a 'True Believer', and now realizes he was a deceived believer. After all, there is THAT potential, right? Let's(again) review your previous answer to that question:

Buddy Ferris: "Of course; no serious Christian would continue if they thought they were otherwise."

Moreover, any adult can likely "recount" their days when on the 25th of every December, they'd awaken to the smell of holly, presents under the tree, and stuffed stockings. Just because one can recall such events vividly in their mind, says not one thing about the reality of whether Santa Claus actually "exists"/"existed".

Buddy Ferris: So here we have a professed atheist's account of a personal, tangible, thoroughly persuasive encounter, one which has been experienced by many, observed by more, described in literature, and rejected in this case after years of dissuasive experience.

I'm not sure, do I even need to address this one?... considering my response to the previous paragraph? "Thoroughly persuasive encounter"...? Would it help if I put the word "thoroughly" before "deceived"?

Buddy Ferris: Webmaster describes his unfortunate exposure to church foolishness. There was the pastor who removed our friend and his wife from ministry because they weren't thoroughly persuaded to the dogma he (the pastor) felt was essential.

Ah, yes, the ol' foolishness of the church. Or, "man has failed you, not God". I/we hear both, all the time, Buddy.

Your premise, unless I've misunderstood, is that just because people cause disruption and/or don't "act the part" in Sunday school, doesn't mean that that's a good reason to dismiss why you're there in the first place. True. Like, just because there's some foolishness or a disruption in geometry class, doesn't mean "geometry" doesn't "exist". Okay, I'll concede your premise.

Buddy Ferris: These actions which we observe and abhor have little if any legitimate connection to God or Christianity. They may call themselves what they will, but I doubt God will claim them.

Right, right. And Shirley Phelps doubts that God will claim you and your church, and so does "Abdul Muslim", on the other side of the planet.

Buddy, we've been over it a gazillion times; "belief", especially, religious belief, is all very subjective. In fact, it's one gigantic subjective grab-bag. Is there objective truth in any of it? Well, aside from the "common sense" it touts as "Divinely Inspired", I say an emphatic no, but I'm open for you, or any other Theist, to show me otherwise.

Of course, this leads us back to if you can substantiate whether or not your "belief" is anything more than a subjective belief. Due to non-evidence; due to the time-buying tactics, I'm left with little choice but to remain skeptical..i.e.."no".

Buddy Ferris: I presume you have your own narrative.

Yes. For a quick review, re-read my last dozen or so posts in this thread.

Buddy Ferris: Care to hit the high points here?

Gosh Buddy, I don't think my narrative has any "high points". But really, why would my narrative have, or even need, a "highpoint"?

What's the "high point" of your defense against those who claim Quetzacoatl exists? That's a direct question. Here's another: What's the "high point" of your defense against those who claim that Muhammad exists? Wouldn't your "narrative" essentially be a default position of neutrality? Wouldn't you remain skeptical until EVIDENCE was put forth for one, or the other?

Buddy, once you understand why you dismiss those "Gods", you'll fully understand why I dismiss your "God", and that my narrative doesn't NEED any "high points".

Have a great one.

Dave8 said...

Abstract Thinking Gone Awry: "Two boys were walking home from Sunday school after hearing a strong preaching on the devil. One said to the other, "What do you think about all this Satan stuff?"
The other boy replied, "Well, you know how Santa Claus turned out. It's probably just your Dad."

Sometimes, reason overcomes the ridiculous.

Buddy Ferris said...

Dear webmaster,

My sincere apologies for derailing the threads; although you malign me by suggesting it was purposeful, I'll take the reproof. I'm new to the blog world, obviously, and haven't mastered the nuances thereof. If the blog regulars prefer to have only those with whom they agree participating here, I'm ok with that.

I'm not sure if I should respond to the amateur Baptist apologetics ascription. The offering of: Let's, for the sake of discussion, agree that science is totally inadequate for determining anything whatsoever is inconsistent with what I've stated. Throwing that to me like a bone to a worrisome dog implies perhaps that you think I might agree; I don't.

Buddy Ferris said...

Dear Boomslang,

Thanks for your gracious concession and honest continuing skepticism. Should you desire to discontinue, let me know. I appreciate the time and conversation you've given.

The legends of Quetzalcoatl and other such recountings have a particular place in my understanding of history; we'll go that road sometime, perhaps. Muhammad did exist, I'm moderately sure.

At some point, you would like me to offer the evidence which has persuaded me to the existence of God. It's as though a lion waited impatiently for the youngster to stray out on to the savanna. Is there no middle ground where the two of us might reason? Or must I be adequately bloodied first?

Why do I believe? Here's a fun starting place; I've seen two angels. The first was wide awake, eyes open, in a crowd; the event stunned me, being a pragmatic, engineer type. Not human or near human. The event is burned as a series of detailed images in my memory. The second such event scared me so badly that I turned away in a blind panic. Two events, five years apart.

More such events, no two particularly alike, all clearly and calmly considered, many with a precise element of information communicated, many in public with witnesses.

You can imagine how I might interpret such things. I can imagine how you might interpret such things. Lay on, McDuff, and ... we'll skip the tail of that quote.

Buddy

boomSLANG said...

Buddy Ferris: The legends of Quetzalcoatl and other such recountings have a particular place in my understanding of history; we'll go that road sometime, perhaps. Muhammad did exist, I'm moderately sure

Buddy,

My first question---how can you be certain that "Quetzalcoatl" didn't actually "exist"? What method of deduction did you/do you use to reach that conclusion?

Secondly, if "Muhammad" actually existed, what is it that makes you certain that he wasn't the 'Son of Allah', like Islam claims? What evidence might you include/exclude to deny such a claim? Again, not trick questions, but honest inquiry.

Buddy Ferris: At some point, you would like me to offer the evidence which has persuaded me to the existence of God.

Not just "God"--"Yahweh/Son/ghost".

Buddy Ferris: It's as though a lion waited impatiently for the youngster to stray out on to the savanna. Is there no middle ground where the two of us might reason? Or must I be adequately bloodied first?

Yes, Buddy....I've already somewhat implied that there's acceptable middle ground. I would readily accept that what you believe you are experiencing is a personal truth; that you are convinced that what you experienced was/is real.(notice, no quotes on truth or real)

Moreover, I already hold a position of neutrality. I think that's as "middle ground" as anything. But, if you have something else in mind, I'll take a listen.

Budy Ferris: Why do I believe? Here's a fun starting place; I've seen two angels. The first was wide awake, eyes open, in a crowd; the event stunned me, being a pragmatic, engineer type. Not human or near human.

To my understanding, I thought "angels" were invisible, non-physical, "beings"? If not, and you detected these "beings" with your physical senses(eyes), how can you be sure they were "angelic" in nature, and not something else?.... like Aliens? Like something Tom Cruise might relate to?

Buddy Ferris: The event is burned as a series of detailed images in my memory. The second such event scared me so badly that I turned away in a blind panic. Two events, five years apart.

I can imagine(no pun intended). Again, Buddy, alien abductees claim the same frightening types of encounters. Even under "hypnosis". What distinguishing features/factors lead you to believe that these "beings" were/are "Divine" in nature?...or, "super"-nature? Furthermore, how do you know they weren't "Muslim" angels? I'm sure you know that Muslims claim such sightings, too...or, I would hope so. If so, how do you explain away a Muslim's experience?

Buddy Ferris: More such events, no two particularly alike, all clearly and calmly considered, many with a precise element of information communicated, many in public with witnesses.

What kind of information? And how was this info communicated between parties? If you don't mind sharing, of course.

Buddy Ferris: You can imagine how I might interpret such things. I can imagine how you might interpret such things. Lay on, McDuff, and ... we'll skip the tail of that quote.

It's exciting, the least. Tell me, though, were you a "Christian" before?... or was it after these experiences that made you a believer?' Just curious.

Pardon the amount of questions. On the other hand, it's no "every-day" claim.

Buddy Ferris said...

Dear BoomSlang,

Short questions, long answers. The last first, then.

I've been a Christian for most of 50+ years. I spent a few of my younger years off on a siding; I claimed agnosticism for a couple of years; in retrospect, the claim was more an intellectual preference than something I actually held genuinely. I was a believer when the events I described happened. They're fairly recent.

The first was at a musical performance. An older fellow was playing guitar and singing reasonably well; not remarkable music, but it was genuinely personal, from his heart to God in worship. His wife danced behind him on the stage, rather oddly, I thought. Strange movements, not drawn from any dance style I'd known. I asked, possibly out loud, "What in the world is she doing?" After several songs and her accompanying dance, I became slowly aware that I could see a creature behind her on the stage, visibly as though separated from her by a gauzy curtain, dancing in the same manner, not particularly in unison with her. Huge, easily 3 times her height. The creature was better at the dance than she; they danced while I watched for some time, I don't know how long. No shadows, no trick lighting, no disappearing when I rubbed my eyes and looked again. It didn't occur to me, lacking any frame of reference, to deduce anything from what I saw. As the dance ended and as worship drew to a close for the 1200 or so folks there, the creature faded from sight, and I heard quite loudly the words, "She dances with angels" spoken as though to me. OK, I had asked, but it was just a rhetorical question.

I was over 50 at the time, a science and engineering professional, decades past romantic suggestibility, a boringly realistic guy according to my family and friends. No art, no music, no theater in my soul; just science and math, and I'm the one that sees this thing. My wife next to me didn't see or hear anything unusual. A friend who was there described for me later having seen the same creature.

That was one experience that I'm satisfied was genuine above the 'it's a miracle; my headache is better!' level. It is generally consistent with biblical accounts of such encounters; I'll do the references for you if you like.

Although the creature wasn't human or particularly humanoid, there weren't any lizardy features I could see, so Tom won't be beating down my door. Anecdotal narratives from the bible suggest that angels are not necessarily unseen. If Christian thinking regarding angels is to be believed, angels are not divine, meaning like God. Angels are created beings, not particularly like us, and not likely to be golden haired young guys in white dresses. I'm satisfied that the creature was angelic rather than alien or other due to the context in which it was observed. It was dancing with a human female while she danced for her God accompanying her husbands offering of his music. I didn't think to ask if it was a Muslim angel.

Enough for the moment?
Raises more questions than it answers, I know.

Buddy

Dave8 said...

Buddy, I am currently listening to a video musical...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tD5u3eZvcUw

Can you explain, why you believe this "oddly" dance of a "woman", and entity/image/apparition is a real event or not? If you had no other information about the gentleman's life, surrounding this musical production, would you be able to conclusively deny what you experienced? If not, you must be highly tempted to assert that this production replicates a concrete or physical event, but... does it?

How do you tell the truth, from fantasy Buddy, just curious. It really matters not to me about your mental abstractions of reality, they are real, it's what you can pull out in concrete terms that allows your experience to be understood by others...

Now, your inability to display your expereience, may well, be a common "experience" or "plight" that you share with others, and becomes a "social" glue for a culture, but at least properly accept the root cause for your social adhesion to others whom you would share a similar title with.

Any belief/non-belief statement that makes a positive claim towards the "existence" of another persons' mental abstraction, is absurd.

The "inspiration" to bring a mental abstraction to "form" (bible, etc.), does not constitute "proof", for/of the mental abstraction, it is only proof of itself, if the bible, it is proof of a book's existence in concrete terms, nothing more. The bible, doesn't prove a mental abstraction to be "True".

I restrain from making positive claims about your mental abstraction/experience, but, your attempt to take your mental abstraction, a mentally perceived "only" vision of an angel, and link it in "concrete" terms - fails.

Buddy Ferris said...

Dear Dave8,

My recounting the experience was not offered as proof. It was offered in answer to a question.

You do raise interesting questions regarding our powers of observation and the legitimacy of our conclusions. How do you distinguish between truth and fantasy?

My impression from those who post here is that some semblance of rational analysis is considered reasonable.

For that which I saw, the following applies:

Observed by an impartial party?
Yes. I had no expectations of the event. It was not a thesis I was interested in proving. It was not a structured event which I controlled for some desired outcome. I was without a frame of reference at the time of the event. I had neither current curiosity nor recent conversations to pre-load my observation of the event.

Predisposed by social adhesion to others having or claiming similar experience?
No. I was, at the time of the event, skeptical of such things by carefully considered choice.

Witnessed?
Yes. A person in a different location observed and later described the event in recognizable terms to me and others.

Repeatable on command?
No. I did not cause the event, nor have I attempted to duplicate it. The event did withstand attempts to shake it off and not see it.

Likely to have been deliberately staged for the performance?
No. Only two of hundreds saw it. Only one heard it.

Visual anomaly from physical circumstances?
No. The event was clearly visible, easily examined, persistent, consistent over time, in a clearly understood physical environment.

Credible observer(s)?
Make your own decision, pal.

What's the most likely source or cause; simplest, therefore most likely?
Here, your bias will lead you one way or another.
(1) it was a mental abstraction, as you've suggested. It didn't happen and the observers didn't see anything.
(2) it was a creature, participating quite directly in a finite context.
(3) other.

You are able to consider reasonably those things which your intellectual bias allows you to consider as reasonable. Truth is found; bias is chosen. It is difficult to see and remove your own bias from discussions such as these.

Buddy

.:webmaster:. said...

Buddy,

You believe you witnessed a supernatural event.

Did you witness this supernatural event with natural eyes, or were you given supernatural eyes in order to view the supernatural event?

Let me be clear. If you "saw" something, then that something must have been in the natural "realm," at least for a short time, right?

I was in Charismatic churches for many years, and heard many stories such as yours. Sincere people claimed many such visions, visions shared by one or two or three. However, these visions never happened to people who were not already Christians and predisposed toward interpreting their visions through Christian lenses.

Regardless, the vision is real to you, so you accept it as real. The thing about personal experiences such as you describe, is that only you can benefit by them. You cannot share your personal experience with anyone else. You can tell them about it, but you cannot share the actual experience. That experience is for you alone. It is not truth. It is not proof. It is not evidence. It is merely a personal experience that confirms the religion you have spent your entire life involved with. It is, to everyone outside your brain or your immediate circle of religious people, completely meaningless.

For instance, you yourself said you were skeptical of such things until it happened to you. Why would you expect anyone else to be less skeptical?

I saw many things as a Christian, and had my own experiences which I interpreted as supernatural. I no longer see those experiences that way any more. Our brains do some inexplicable things at times, and the propensity for waking hallucinations, mass hallucinations, hallucination by suggestion, and old fashioned lying are all possibilities in regards to fantastic stories.

You didn't give many details on this dancing "angel." Did he/she have wings? Was it wearing a white robe or was it naked? Did it have long hair? Did it have two arms and two legs? Did it shine like the sun? Did it have ten fingers and ten toes? Was it wearing shoes? Was it thin or fat? Was it Caucasian?

Buddy Ferris said...

Dear Webmaster,

Your questions confuse me a little. For instance, I'm not sure what supernatural eyes might be. Yes, of course it was real to me and of no particular interest to you.

You may freely assume what you will from my account. I didn't expect much in the way of acceptance offering such an account on this forum.

Let me invite you to note your casual dismissal of my account with offhand suggestions of mass hallucination, and hallucination by suggestion. The account doesn't fit your solution. I've been castigated for less on this site.

You may decide I'm a liar, of course.

You believe what you choose. You choose what you believe; none are as objective and fair minded as they hope.

Buddy

boomSLANG said...

Re: "Angelic" encounter.

Dear Buddy,

As Dave(Webmaster) and Dave(8) already pointed out--your personal experiences are yours. No one is here to tell you that they were NOT "real"....to you(key point)

The problem(also, as previously pointed out), is that if whatever you witnessed was unique to 2 individuals out of 200, then it would stand to reason that 198 people didn't merely "over-look" it; they didn't just "happen" to miss the phenomenoa.... nor is it likely that they all made a run for some Juju bunnies at the same time. Please chime in if you think this is an unreasonable assessment, thus far. In other words, if you think that there's more of a chance of 198 people having a proclivity to error than "two" people...I'd like to have a listen at how you arrive at those odds.

For the moment, if we can agree that those other 198 people weren't "out to lunch" or asleep in their seats during said event, then we should be able to conclude two things: 1) whatever you saw was NOT "physical" in nature, and 2) that you and the other "witness" must have some "extra-sensory" perception with which to detect the "super-natural", or, meta-physical realm.

Again, continuing for the sake of argument, let's say that this is the case, and instead of "angels", you sighted transparent purple leprechauns, or invisible pink angora imps. Well, in such hypothetical case, it would be of zero consequence to others, and we could end the discussion right here, this very instant. Right? "Yay!..enjoy your imps!", etc. Right?

Do you see where I'm going with this? The problem is that you are claiming that whatever you saw validates a particular religious doctrine..e.g.."Christianity". For economy of space, I'll say that the bottom line of this doctrine is, "Believe...or burn". In other words, it is implicit that your personal "angelic encounter" DEMANDS that we ALL believe your personal "truth", as a Universal "Truth", lest our "souls" be eternally incinerated.

In case you haven't picked up on it---I have a real problem with this. Especially, if you and a "privileged few" have the special means with which to detect this "supernatural" realm, and the rest of us are left saying, "Whaaaa?..hUH?..wHeRe?..I don't 'see' anything...where the heck is it?..point to it...what's it doing now, where'd it gO???"..etc., etc., etc. 'Follow?

In other words, if your "God" is going to "make available" this obviously very necessary "sense" of perception to ONLY two out of every two HUNDRED people, and then wants to hold me responsible for being skeptical? F%CK HIM.

(sorry, bro'... I get enraged just thinking about the absurdity of it)

Furthermore, and on a lighter note, you apparently at least had the "notion" of what an "angel" was, due in part to your pre-conceived theistic/dualistic belief, no? Sure, you can sit there and say that you were skeptical, yada, yada... but you cannot deny the fact that you knew what an "angel" allegedly was, prior to the "sighting"; that you had a pre-disposition. Not to mention, if I understood correctly, it was a religious performance?

Notwithstanding, by your own admission, you said it didn't fit the 'traditional' look of an "angel"? Okay...so how do you know it was an "angel"? Listening.

Have fun on your trip.....bring back some objective evidence!(j/k)

.:webmaster:. said...

Buddy,

I'm sorry to have confused you with my questions. I take the blame for not clearly stating things.

You claim to have seen (with your eyes) an entity that is not part of this natural world. If I understand you correctly, you "saw" this being with your natural eyes, but the thing you saw was not natural. In fact, only you and another religionist of your acquaintance saw this thing. Since 198 people also there saw nothing, then this is not a natural event.

If your eyes, which are natural, could see this shadow dancer, then I am curious as to how other natural eyes missed it. I am also curious to know whether you thought to take a photo on your cellphone so you could show others your heavenly vision.

Since you appear to think that personal experiences of this sort validate your beliefs, I'd like to share a brief story with you.

My father-in-law believes God speaks to him on occasion with an audible voice. He doesn't believe the voice is in his head, but in the air, vibrating his eardrums and the little bones of his inner ear.

One story I've heard dozens of times from him is of the time he was struggling to repair the plumbing under his sink. He was not progressing well, since he has no talent for plumbing. He cried out to God in frustration and heard "an audible voice" that said, "I am a plumber." He immediately recognized the voice (somehow) as that of God, and he redoubled his efforts with the stubbornly leaking sink. He eventually stopped the leak and credited it all to God's audible voice and assistance.

Something more about my father-in-law: He is/was physically and verbally abusive to his children (including my wife) for years. He is loud, pushy, obnoxious, preaches constantly, and is convinced that that the words from his mouth are the very words of God. He inappropriately touched his younger siblings while growing up and did the same to his children as they entered puberty. He has obvious mental (possibly chemical) issues that have never been diagnosed, because he has spent his life in missionary service. In his version of Christianity, mental illness doesn't exist -- only demonic influence exists. He's been exorcised, so he is cured, he thinks. Still, his actions speak volumes and his experiences are wacky.

Now, why would you expect me to believe that you had actually seen a ghost, er... I mean angel when some goof ball was ecstatically dancing an awkward jig?

I don't claim to be objective if objective means believing an anonymous poster who states fantastic sounding nonsense without so much as an ounce of communicable evidence beyond a no-detail story.

To backtrack a bit, my point in the science comment is to say that whatever science says or doesn't say is totally irrelevant to your claim of extra-dimensional encounters of the third kind. I don't care what science says about non-relevant topics. Science is dismissed, for the sake of this conversation.

Now, please present me evidence that your flying zombie dude, that is really god, but not the father, and not the ghost, lives in your physical body and sends magical creatures to dance for you.

My language is sarcastic, the question is sincere. It sounds ridiculously superstitious. It sounds like the way people talked as they set fire to witches. It is Harry Potter land.

I am sincerely interested in reading exactly what this "non-traditional angel" looked like to you. Please draw out it's description in words.

Watch out for those mosquitoes. They are real.

.:webmaster:. said...

And, Buddy, let me invite you to not take things so personally. My "off-hand remark" clearly included myself and only suggested the possibility of hallucination. My own hallucination were partly self-hypnosis, partly suggestion, and partly wanting it all to be true.

Your's could very well be something similar. Why should I think they are not? Have any evidence to the contrary? Although this experience of yours is real to you, it is insanity to think ANYONE outside your religious social group would view your story as anything but kooky. Do you tell this story at work? I'll wager that you don't.

Buddy Ferris said...

Dear Webmaster,

It would be inappropriate for me to dismiss your father-in-law story with a suggestion that it was deliberate misinformation, or worse perhaps, just a flat out lie, concocted to support your preferred position for which you lacked adequate grounds. I seriously considered doing so, so that you might experience the surprise your treatment brought me.

Of course, I expect you are an honorable man. I have no reason to believe you would lie. I have no reason to think the facts as you recounted them are untrue or inaccurate. Your narrative is careful enough and specific enough to warrant a respectful reading and consideration. So was the narrative I offered.

Note the gut wrench you experienced while reading the first paragraph.

I'm not whining. I note the dual standard.

Thoughts?

Buddy

Buddy Ferris said...

Dear Boomslang,

From your offered middle ground and professed neutrality, we've slipped quickly through several very specific assertions which I'm sure I didn't make, but you attribute to me.

No problem. I'm not offended by your anger at the things you describe. I would be equally infuriated by such unfairness.

Picking up your last question; since it didn't look like a blond-haired guy in a white dress, how did I know it was an angel? I didn't know what I was watching until the end; I had zero frame of reference for what I was watching; no explanation came to mind as I observed, noting the details like a good engineer. I was told at the end.

Thanks for the friendly words. What shall I bring you from my travels? I'm told the choices are fish, other fish, and other fish. Preference?

Buddy

Dave8 said...

Buddy: "My recounting the experience was not offered as proof. It was offered in answer to a question."

No problem, I'm just interested in the logic behind all of this.

Buddy: "You do raise interesting questions regarding our powers of observation and the legitimacy of our conclusions. How do you distinguish between truth and fantasy?"

That's the question I asked you :-) However, a few statements to frame a response. We are borne from Existence, consider it Objective Reality, by which there was no pre-conceived personal bias that we were privvy to.

What is "Truth" then? Once we enter Existence, as a sub-set of Objective Reality, we become cognizant and capable of recognizing our environment. In order to move to a state by which we can make sense of our reality, we inherently begin to apply reason to our environment.

The "organized" hierarchical structure of knowledge, as created by reason, axioms, and evidence provide a means to consciously conceptualize products and propositions. When one of these products corresponds to reality, then it is said to be true.

For instance, your angel scenario. Typically, most people move from a known concept, to grammatically reflective sentences, to produce a direct link to reality. For instance, you suggest you saw a "form"... how do you move from concept, to grammatical structure, to conclusion, unless you have the "concept" initially, of an angel. If you use someone elses' terms, then it's "their" concept, and "your" words to reflect "their" concept.

Your statement, that you experienced an event that you are not able to place into proper context until later on, proofs your reliance of others to bias your reality. The truth, is in your experience of the moment, and according to "your" ability to frame it based on well-reasoned knowledge.

Now, if you would like to proffer how you come to well-reasoned knowledge, then, I'd like to hear. Remember, your reason, your axioms, and your evidence, allow "you" to draw a proper conclusion, based on your conceptualized and experiential knowledge.

Fantasy? Proferring another persons' concepts, words, and knowledge that do not correspond directly to your experience. In a more abstract sense, the suggestion of knowledge, devoid of any physical attachment or link. For instance; Peter Pan, and Never, Never, Land, etc. is fantastical, there is no place and time that never land can exist, and is devoid of concrete meaning, and ability to become another persons' "evidence", by which they can broaden their knowledge base.

Buddy: "My impression from those who post here is that some semblance of rational analysis is considered reasonable."

I am amenable to rational analysis; but if I start inspecting too closely, I start noticing mathematical, logic and pattern errors. For instance, you suggest there were two that saw your apparition, yet, suggest that the dancing lady was dancing oddly. Dancing oddly, because she was attempting to dance in line with a better lead than herself, that makes her a "third" party.

Notwithstanding, minor broken links in your story, there is the huge gap of the origin of your knowledge of "angel", and how you are capable of mooring an abstraction, detached from this "reality", on a physical stage. You either built the abstraction of "angel" from natural elements and patterns, or you received naturally provided knowledge via communication from another person; in no form, can your "angel" be communicated in some "other" form than "natural".

To suggest you experienced an angel not of this world, is like saying; I always lie. It's a contradictory statement.

Buddy: "Here, your bias will lead you one way or another.
(1) it was a mental abstraction, as you've suggested. It didn't happen and the observers didn't see anything."

I don't need bias, I would like a logical explanation or account for your knowledge. Again, if you have borrowed knowledge, that you haven't personally "reasoned" out, then you are not speaking your "truth", you are speaking someone elses'.

If you would like to get your other buddy on the line, I'd like to find out how "they" learned of an "angel"... want to wager, they picked it up from a natural source, not based on a phsyical identity in the concrete realm?

When you borrow knowledge, and don't "reason" its veracity, by assigning your personal axioms, evidence thresholds, etc., you borrow risk and utter uncertainty...

Buddy: "You are able to consider reasonably those things which your intellectual bias allows you to consider as reasonable"

Wrong, my bias doesn't "control" me, as if it is an animal uncaged. I get to "reason" out my thoughts, seek diverse perspectives, cross-check it with known "facts", and ensure what I suggest... does align between my concept and reality, without assigning personal meaning subjectively.

It is when I am asked for my opinion on reality that my bias comes into play.

I may have very limited knowledge of the Universe, but as long as the knowledge I hold, corresponds to my experiences via grammatical exchange, etc., I would be considered "truthful" in my statements - we can only honestly describe our reality, based on previous experience. Well, unless we meet an angel, I suppose, there is always a first event to establish the identity of a form/object.

So, do all follow up angels, have to be as tall, or able to dance, or shine, or... be naturally-unnatural... or... other abstract notion that conflicts with reality.

Dave8

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