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2/01/2007                                                                                       View Comments

Sacrifice and Original Sin Make No Sense to Me

By John Fraysse

The Jewish/Christian Sacrificial system and the concept of "Original Sin" seem to go hand-in-hand and are threaded throughout the Bible and most Christian doctrines. Yet, they have never made any sense to me. The more I thought about these two cardinal precepts, the more it appeared that there was something “Rotten in Jerusalem!” In fact, I think it is extremely likely that the entire Sacrificial System of the Bible was corrupt from the very beginning. I don't think that the “God of Evolution”, or the “Creator God” , if any god exists, would ever require Sacrifice, simply because it doesn't make sense. What does the God of the Universe need with our sacrifice? It would be far more effective and instructive to place the knowledge of this same God in the hearts of the self-aware humans He started down their evolutionary path 100’s of millions of years ago (Romans 1:19?). Here is my case:

The Biblical authors and the people they describe (Jews and Muslims) had the “opportunity and motive” to adopt the sacrificial systems of other cultures which had gods (evil ones) that demanded appeasement. They also could have assimilated much of the surrounding folk legends and embellished them, as needed, to justify their uniqueness and destiny as a nation. The many “moral fairy tales” we find in the Bible, when tainted with these “corruptions”, also exacted a strong measure of CONTROL over the huddled masses.

Ever notice how “man-like” the biblical god appears to be? Who would obey a god that loved its creation unconditionally and only wanted those things that would make them “better” as a species? Those who aspired to “rule absolutely” needed CONTROL, so what better way to do this than to characterize god as an All-Seeing, All-Powerful, but very temperamental deity that, if not appeased, would destroy the disobedient, curse their descendants and/or allow their national enemies to over run them? The idea of running a nation “God’s Way” brought control over minds, wealth and, potentially, the eternal destiny of every subject - perfect for rulers colluding with the priesthood!

But then god appeared evil and in danger of not eliciting the requisite level of deference, so, in a “twist” worthy of Greek Theater, the Bible writers decided to introduce the ”tragic flaw” of “Original Sin”. This cleverly allows god to be “justified” in his anger, placing the culpability of the same squarely on the shoulders of his hapless subjects – US!

But let’s review the “Original Sin” episode and try to place it in perspective. Say, I'm “god” and have made two new children, Adam (the guy) and Eve (the girl) and I'm “pleased as punch” with these two. So, I place them in a beautiful environment that I have made for them to enjoy and husband. In the middle of my glorious creation, I place a very tempting but “evil thing” which I tell them not to mess with or something “bad” (death), which they do not understand, will happen to them. I also don't tell them that I, God, their Loving Father, will be the one to punish them. I then go away and leave my innocent kids alone with an “evil being” that I know to be a lair, murderer and molester of the innocent – the very personification of evil! Further, I don't even tell my kids about the “bad guy” in their midst or his devious plans to “tempt and destroy” them, even though I know this is what he fully plans to do! Now, when I come back, I, God, am very wrathful because I find that my kids have been deceived by the “evil one”, and disobeyed me, so I decide it is “just and fitting” to punish and curse my kids and all of their decedents forever as a result of THEIR BEHAVIOR!? Are you kidding? What about MY behavior? Any court in America would convict me of child abuse or reckless endangerment under these same circumstances! I would never knowingly do this to my kids! Why is god’s love and concern for his children seemingly less than my lousy human compassion?

Nevertheless, the deed was done and the die had been cast. God “said it and did it”, so it must be right! Henceforth, there is “something wrong” with us humans, that is, both “Original Sin” and “Contemporary Sin” and god can now righteously demand sacrifice, worship and praise or so the story goes. Surely this myth, metaphor, parable or whatever can NOT be from the heart of an All-Good and Loving God! Pardon me, but I want to throw up!

I have no problems admitting or proving myself and others to be imperfect. I have an obvious need to seek forgiveness and to give it when wrongs are committed and suffered. I even understand and seek to attain the high principle of “loving my enemies” but surely there was a better way to communicate the need for unconditional love and forgiveness in my life than the patently strange and immoral doctrines of Original Sin and Ritual Sacrifice!

Volumes have been written trying to explain and justify these ideas. When this happens the processes being “justified” tend to fail Occam’s Razor (http://pespmc1.vub.ac.be/OCCAMRAZ.html) a pillar principle of all scientific investigation. So the simplest explanation for Original Sin and Sacrifice is simply this… “they are not, and never were, true!”

Some may argue that this same logic can be applied to all of Orthodox Christianity.

35 comments:

twincats said...

That's right, any lawyer worth his beans would file a civil lawsuit on behalf of Adam n' Eve, citing the Tree of Knowledge as an attractive nuisance!

Nvrgoingbk said...

God damned right! How the hell did I ever believe that drivel?

tigg13 said...

Absolutely!

If god can't love us just the way we are then he/she/it/they don't deserve to be god!

Sarge said...

What was always odd to me wat that this storied diety tells the proto couple that if they eat of this fruit they will die. Lies to them! The 'Prince of Lies' is the one that tells them the truth! When I was a boy, pointing out this bit of miscelleny usually got me a sharp blow as to some part of my anatomy. Musta been that christian love at work.

An atheist friend says that given Genesis he could almost believe in a diety that made people in its own image. Just looking around himself at the believers and their behavior kind of egged him that way.

jfraysse said...

Sarge: Great point, man!

But guys, I’m sure it was explained to you all that Adam DID die a “fleshly death” eventually, even though mankind was created to “live forever“ somewhere – Hell if you did nothing or the “wrong things” and Heaven after a “Suitable and True Salvation” experience. Come on! You all are teachable, right! (grin)

Bottom line, as Sarge's youthful tirade points out, god appears to be EVIL and no “better” than his lowly human subjects! For me (and many) this fact alone confirms the suspicion that it was MAN that Created God in MAN’s image, just like the ancient dudes that made up the “pagan” gods thousands of years before Moses’ time. Once people “understood” and feared this evil god, obedience followed because, if not, god would destroy or punish them. All the writers had to do, at this point, was lay down “The Law”, as they defined it, and the CONTROL they sought was assured. It is no wonder we have the inconsistent and convoluted “religious mess” we are in today.

“Oh what a tangled web we weave, when first we practice to deceive!”(Sir Walter Scott)

God help us! But, perhaps he already has by giving us the power to reason. ‘Tis a dangerous path – the one illuminated by reason, methinks, but it is the only course we dare take! May their tribe increase - all those who navigate there in!

Dano said...

If God is "all everything," and he made Adam and Eve with obvious flaws, the only conclusion we can come to is that we are not capable of understanding God's ways.

I'm sure, there is a perfectly good reason, for God to punish Adam and eve for something that they were "set up" for, and even though it seems to us, grossly unfair to put blame onto every succeeding generation of man thereafter, you must come to the conclusion that it makes sense, to a perfect God.

So when you read all of the evidence that fills thousand of libraries and points to man having evolved over a period of 4 billion years, you must, just assume, that God has just created an illusion, to make it appear to be so, and created Satan for the express purpose of deceiving you.

If you have ever played with an ant, and foiled its attempts to traverse a certain course, the you will start to understand the pleasure that God gets from messing with our minds.
Dan (Its so easy to just believe)

twincats said...

Maybe GOD is the attractive nuisance!

Neocognitron said...

Perhaps you will appreciate a different perspective on this topic of sacrifice even if you do not agree with it.

You began by saying you did not understand the principal behind sacrifices and asked “What does the God of the Universe need with our sacrifice?” As a believer in Christ I would contend that you are correct. God does not “need” our sacrifices. Everything God asks of us is for our own good and not His. He tells us to sacrifice so that we remember who provides the things we have and to remind us to give rather than horde our possessions. In Old Testament times sacrifices were a foretelling of the death of Christ (God’s sacrifice to us) but today sacrifices are a reminder of that gift.

In the following paragraph you question God’s unconditional love and assert that Jews/Christians seek to “rule absolutely” and do this by “[characterizing] god as an All-Seeing, All-Powerful, but very temperamental deity.” My response is that most major religions share the belief that their respective deity(s) is/are all powerful. So, this belief is not unique. Regarding absolute rule, yes Jews and Christians both desire it but it is not the absolute rule over the world as you suggest. It is the control over emotions and inward values. We seek the willingness to love despite our anger, to cease looking lustfully at others and desiring their possessions. We seek self control, not world domination. If you wish to view a religion seeking world domination pay close attention to the Muslim faith which claims beheadings are justifiable for even minor infractions, which supports the demise of an entire race of people (the Israelis) and which shows contempt for even believers within their own faith. Notice in this commentary that I speak about the Muslim faith and not about the believers. It is an important distinction. As a Christian I believe I am as sinful and unworthy to be with God as any Muslim believer, and that I too could be fooled by the petty trickeries in the wisdom of the Muslim doctrine as many Muslims have been. And it is only by God’s grace that any of us has wisdom to know that to kill, hate and murder is wrong. Thus I assert that God truly does show unconditional love since he truly does give this wisdom and many other blessings to all who truly seek Him. And before your ask, yes, there are many Muslims who have received this wisdom and recognize that their faith is being destroyed by terrorists and terrible ideologies. And yes, there are also many who call themselves Christian who do not have it. May God bless and have mercy on all!

At last we come to the heart of your message: the question of whether the story about Adam and Eve is true. Well, you seem to be convinced about a topic which biblical scholars have debated for centuries. Some scholars believe it is a literal story, others believe it a story about two tribes rather than two individuals, and others believe it an allegory or a story simply meant to teach morality. In any case you have apparently allowed this single question to determine the truthfulness of the entire bible. If this is an accurate analysis of your intended message you might want to look at the Occam’s Razor theories again. Einstein simplified them to say (and I’m paraphrasing Einstein): “Make your theories as simple as possible and no simpler.” In other words, if you are basing your entire faith on the single question about Adam and Eve you might be oversimplifying your theory and need to rethink your basis.

I pray this provides a new perspective on this topic and that you appreciate the commentary even if you disagree. It would be a very bland world if we all thought alike, and God did not create a bland world.

God’s blessings to you all!

Steven Bently said...

Neocognitron, No, I'm afraid it is you, that has it all wrong..!


Greatly assuming the Bible to be true, theoretically Adam and Eve would be still living today, if only they had not chose to sin, (man's imaginative answer as to why we die) then God sent his perfect son Jesus, to save us from our sins, yet he died also, but how could he have died a physical death, being perfect and without sin? Here's how!

Jesus was the recipient of the biggest hoax and fabrication that the world has ever witnessed.

Mary was an attractive young girl of 12 years old and she went to church every day to pray and so she was befriended by the local priest, whom she had built enormous trust, she started her period one day and was scared as any young girl would be, and consulted her priest and he told her she would have to be initiated into the Kingdom of Heaven, by way of Holy Immaculate Conception, she had no idea what that meant, she just knew she did not want to take a chance and end up in Hell, so he devised a plan to molest her. A couple of weeks later, the priest took Mary down to a room in the rear of the church, where they would not likely be seen, nor heard, and he advised her to follow his every command, and right there he had his way with Mary, unclothed her, kissed her passionately and inseminated her and she was with child, unbenounced to her, the priest told her not to tell anyone, otherwise she would undo her blessing soon to come, she just knew something didn't seem at all right.

Now a month later, she became sick with morning sickness and she quickly consulted her priest and he said that she had received a gift from God in the form of the Holy Spirit and that she was inseminated by a Angel of God, the priest knowing that if it got out to the public that he had molested Mary, he and Mary and Joseph would have quickly been stoned to death, by having a baby out of wedlock a deadly unpardonable sin of that time.

Jesus was born and he was told all his life that he was in fact sent to Earth by a God, since the very first day that he was born, he was uplifted and praised as a man of God, so Jesus had no reason not to believe that he was sent by a God.

It would have all been more believable if Jesus was still alive even today, because others in the Bible supposedly lived over 800 years old, so nothing would have seemed unusual, even if Jesus had still been walking on Earth today.

But Jesus thought also himself, that he was from a God, he thought that he would survive the crucifixion, because of Mark 9:1 but their little scheme failed, because Jesus never returned, had Jesus still been living today there would be no need for faith, no need for churches and preachers, no need for different beliefs and all the different denominations.

Jesus was not sent from a God, and never was, many thought he was, but he himself got fooled along with many millions of people.

If Jesus was God, then why did he supposedly say on the cross, "My God, My God, Why has thou forsaken me?"

And why did it take three days for Jesus to resurrect, when supposedly God created the whole universe in just six days?

If I were a God, I would be more concerned about regulating the temperature of the Sun and keeping the billions of galaxies, planets and Suns similar to our own in perfect alignment, rather than be concerned about what a bunch of ignorant fools on a tiny minuscule planet insists in believing in their minds.

Genesis 1:17 But of the tree of knowledge of good and evil; thall shalt not eat of it; for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shall surely die.

Did Eve also coax and entice Jesus to sin, so that he may die a physical death just like everyone else that has ever lived?

If the wages of sin is death, then Jesus having been perfect could not have died nor could he have been killed.

This is exactly what they were counting on back then, when asked "Who shall speak for this man?" No one spoke up, not even his own mother, because they knew he would survive crucifixion.

Even Jesus himself thought he would come down from the cross and live forever, but he got fooled.

That's the reason there was so much shuffling and commotion going on there and the body was missing?

Why was the body missing, if it's the soul only, that rises? Because it was all a hoax.

Sin = physical death
No sin = no physical death, God's Law

Jesus was supposedly perfect without sin, theoretically Jesus could not have been killed in any manner, this was God's original law, this is a fatal flaw overlooked in the Bible.

Jesus got fooled, as did his faithful followers, just as many many millions even today.

Jesus wasn't a sacrifice for sins, he died just like every human being that has ever lived and died, it was all a hoax perpetrated by a preacher trying to save his ass from being stoned to death for molesting a 12 year old girl.

Astreja said...

Death cannot put anything right. It has no magical qualities to *do* anything -- It is merely the absence of life.

And it makes no sense at all to punish one person for the crimes of another.

Sacrifice and Original Sin are preposterous and immoral concepts. They are also the reasons I rejected and continue to reject Christianity.

tigg13 said...

Neocognitron said:

"At last we come to the heart of your message: the question of whether the story about Adam and Eve is true. Well, you seem to be convinced about a topic which biblical scholars have debated for centuries. Some scholars believe it is a literal story, others believe it a story about two tribes rather than two individuals, and others believe it an allegory or a story simply meant to teach morality. In any case you have apparently allowed this single question to determine the truthfulness of the entire bible. If this is an accurate analysis of your intended message you might want to look at the Occam’s Razor theories again. Einstein simplified them to say (and I’m paraphrasing Einstein): “Make your theories as simple as possible and no simpler.” In other words, if you are basing your entire faith on the single question about Adam and Eve you might be oversimplifying your theory and need to rethink your basis."

Well, ok Neo, which is it? A literally historic event, an alegory, a ficticious legend, what?

You are saying that the bible should not be judged by this one story, but if there was no fall then there's no need for salvation. No salvation means no need for a saviour. And if there wasn't a saviour then there's no point to having a bible.

This is a huge issue, Neo. If Adam and Eve were mythical characters then the idea that humanity has fallen from grace is nothing more than a baseless conjecture stemming from the observation that humanity is imperfect.

And there's absolutely no reason why any god would punish us for simply being what we are.

No crime = no punishment

And, thus, jesus was crucified to atone for a sin that never actually happened? Come on Neo, you should know better than that.

The truth is that you see the story of Adam and Eve the same way that we do - as fiction! But rather than admit it and endanger your whole belief system, you have decided to relegate it to the fringes of what's "really important".

That way you can cling to your god's blessings and wisdom without having to face the fact that its all rooted in fairy tales.

Neocognitron said...

Tigg13, you present a fantastic counter argument and I rebut by saying I believe the story of Adam and Eve to be a true story about two actual people. But, I am not absolute on this belief since I do not find enough supporting evidence one way or another and could easily accept the notion that it was about tribes or an allegory of some type. It is the deeper meaning to the story of Adam and Even that I believe is substantive and true and which will ultimately be found true. There are enough biblical illustrations that cannot be taken literally that questioning this story’s superficial truth has merit. These illustrations are always meant to teach a deeper truth which is not belittled by the story being found non-literal.

Did mankind fall from grace? I propose that we did and still do. I believe that the fruit of the Tree of Life eaten by Adam and Eve is the reason we have a conscience; that little voice of wisdom that tells us when we have a choice between bad decisions and good ones. I believe that before Adam and Eve fell they did not have this voice and so were bound only by the single command not to eat of the fruit. After eating the fruit they received a conscience which allowed them to see paths other than those provided by God and the ability to choose between them. We suffer the consequences of wrong choices every day and sometimes feel we suffer even when we make the right ones. However, God gives us the right to choose; to make our own mistakes and therefore to fall from grace not because of the sins of our forefathers but by our own hands; our own decisions.

Do we receive punishment for our crimes? Absolutely. When we take drugs or allow ourselves promiscuous sex we chance both addiction and disease. When we do not take care of our children we suffer damaged relationships and broken homes. The number of possible punishments is enormous. Realize also that we are not always punished for doing wrong and we do not always realize the rewards we receive for doing rightly. Even when we choose to do the right things we can suffer loss or hardship, but there are rewards for these choices as well. If, for example, you choose to balance you household income you may find you must sell your home or car because the payments are ruining your finances. You suffer for a time with a smaller home and possible job loss during the adjustment period but when the dust clears you are financially stable, your credit improves and the mortgage company does not have to foreclose so you keep more of your money. That is the time when you find you have a small portion of the peace God offers; the treasure we will keep in heaven.

I presume by now you disagree with the previous paragraph because it is not the righteous “hell” or punishment spoken of in the bible. Well, I do not believe this traditional view is accurate. In my belief, and I am not alone in it, hell is not a place of sorrow because of things being done to us. It is hell because we realize how far apart we are from the perfection that God is. It is as if we were told a train arriving in two weeks would be carrying platinum, gold and silver and more food than a person could eat in a lifetime, and you could share in this bounty if you only pick up a free ticket from the corner street vendor. Well, it sounds too fantastic so you don’t pick up a ticket. So, when the train arrives and you realize it is true you find yourself frantically looking for the street vendor who has already boarded the train. At this point you find yourself “gnashing at your teeth” and so extremely angry at yourself and at the street vendor that you feel like you are on fire. This is my expectation about the hell God speaks about and the fire, wailing and gnashing of teeth so often mentioned.

Hell is the inferiority we feel as we approach the Almighty God. As we approach Him and become aware of just how perfect His ways are and how inferior and unworthy we are. We realize then how self-centered and judgmental we are and feel the “chaff” we keep within our lives burning within us. The burning spoken of so often of in the bible is not a literal flame as we know it, it is the heartache of knowing how badly we have failed; of realizing how pure and perfect we could have become, but didn’t try to be. I also propose it to would be unimaginable that God would force non-believers to live an eternal life suffering from this knowledge so in His compassion has prepared a place for them (the lake of fire).

As a long-time believer I have learned that the closer I come to actually following God’s ways I learn more about how different I am from Him. The closer I get to being as He is the better I understand how long the journey is; not because I can see the path ahead of me but because I can see how far I have come and how much I have changed.

And so, I tell you, Tigg13, ‘yes’. I believe Adam and Eve walked upon the Earth, ate of the fruit of the tree of life and died. I believe it was in an area now controlled by the country of Iraq since there is biblical evidence to this story. This is not baseless conjecture as you so eloquently claim but a reasoned analysis of evidence supported by too many proven facts to be acceptable as chance or probability as others suggest.

The thin thread upon which this debate ultimately rests is on that of faith. Of whether you have faith in the many proven truths within the bible or whether you reject them as chance, illusion or lies.

Tigg13, May wisdom, grace and peace touch you always!

Dano said...

Neocognitron,
I would very much love to hear your explanation of how we evolved from pond scum over a period of three or four billion years (NATURAL SELECTION) and how this works into the Adam and eve story.

Please don't blow me off with some kind of intelligent design pseudo science, because evolution is not considered a theory as the ID people like to keep repeating, but is accepted by virtually the whole scientific community as fact, with mountains of evidence, and is the basis for a lot of our natural sciences.

After reading several of your posts, I will give you credit for having a masterful talent for skipping around a question, but on this one I would appreciate it if you would give it your best shot, without too much obfuscation.

I have noticed also that a lot of the smarter Christians will simply ignore a question that troubles them, but you have posted enough of your version of how you maintain your faith in the basic Christian story, that I have confidence in a forthcoming reply. (I suspect that you do some preaching)

I am neither a scholar nor philosopher, but do have a unique talent for recognizing bullshit when I see it. Anyone who can profess to believe in a literal Adam and Eve, and at the same time want to seem wise, does have a remarkable talent for reorganizing recognition.

Noun
(obfuscation)
The concept of concealing the meaning of communication by making it more confusing and harder to interpret.

DAN (This should be a gooden!)

Lynn said...

I just continue to find it remarkable that xtians go on and on about how they have to fight evil all the darn time, because human nature is essentially evil. And so the ongoing battles with lust, anger, blah blah blah.

It's been my experience that most "evil" gets cured by just fixing what's wrong.

Got anger? Something's pissing you off! What is it? An abusive mate? Get rid of him!

Is envy killing you because your neighbor has more money than you? Join a union, get a skill and contract and make a decent living wage! duh.

Too much lust? How about developing a healthy sexuality that allows sex to be part of your life rather than something that has to be fought. Yes, this includes masturbation (horrors!!), you just gotta let the steam off sometimes, otherwise OF COURSE YOU WILL OBSESS OVER IT!!!!!

Violent? Can't seem to stop beating your wife and children? March yourself into a good batterer's program (references available at any women's shelter or police department) commit to stopping it, and keep going until you do!!!

And BTW, most violent criminals (about 95%) were severly abused by their parents when they were small, violence is largely preventable, but I don't see xtians doing anything about it. Except to defend their right to beat their children (spare the rod and all). Yeah, yeah, I know, now the party line is kinder, gentler spankings, after which you hold you children and tell them you love them, i.e. a softer version of beating children.
That breeds masochists because they learn early on to associate love with violence.

And as far as the righteous justice of a god that demands absolute adherence to unrelenting punishment, I've seen lots of judges mete out lesser punishment than the maximum, sometimes no punishment at all. Why? Because in their assessment, it is a just result. Like having mercy on someone who steals food to feed their family. Is god, because he is perfect, incapable of taking into account mitigating circumstances? If god, being perfect, cannot tolerate any flaw and must mete our abolute punishment, then a human judge's ability to show mercy must arise from his being a flawed and sinful human. Perfect = harsh, then mercy must come from imperfection/sin.

Neocognitron said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
tigg13 said...

Hi Neo.

Well, you're sort of a non-biblical bible believer, aren't you?

According to you, it's the deeper meaning behind the story of Adam and Eve that's important and not their literal existance (even though you think they really did exist).

But what that deeper meaning is is still a bit cloudy.

You said:

"Did mankind fall from grace? I propose that we did and still do. I believe that the fruit of the Tree of Life eaten by Adam and Eve is the reason we have a conscience; that little voice of wisdom that tells us when we have a choice between bad decisions and good ones."

According to Genesis, they ate the fruit of the tree of knowledge (If they had eaten of the tree of life they would supposedly still be alive)

"I believe that before Adam and Eve fell they did not have this voice and so were bound only by the single command not to eat of the fruit."

So you believe that they were conscienceless, like robots or serial killers. They could make choices but they were unable to evaluate the relative moral rightness of their choices.

"We suffer the consequences of wrong choices every day and sometimes feel we suffer even when we make the right ones."

We suffer even if we make the right choices?

"However, God gives us the right to choose; to make our own mistakes and therefore to fall from grace not because of the sins of our forefathers but by our own hands; our own decisions."

Ok, but lets look at some other things that you wrote.

"...it is not the absolute rule over the world as you suggest. It is the control over emotions and inward values (that we seek)."
"We seek self control, not world domination."

Sounds to me like you like to make your own choices and you don't seem to expect god to want to punish you for them.

The real problem here is trying to figure out what it is that god wants us to do - what choices we are "supposed" to make. You like to concentrate on the easy choices: don't steal, don't hate, don't kill, etc.

But, what about "don't believe in Adam and Eve"? Even you're not 100% sure about that. Are we supposed to be conscienceless?

You seem to want it both ways.

By the way, your description of punishment for sins sounds a lot like karma. You might want to check out some new age books or perhaps look into secular humanism. You will find a lot of ideas similar to your own.

And you won't have to worship a god that makes everyone feel inferior anymore.

Neocognitron said...

Dano,

I find humor in the debate about evolution versus creationism since they do not oppose each other. I actually view it much like the debate about the Earth being round. God created all things and is the binding glue that holds all things together. And, He is the one who brings order out of chaos. So, I have no problem believing that He evolved all of life. It is still His design, not ours. I even accept the possibility that we all evolved from apes. What is the harm if God took a chromosome from Adam to create Eve in such a way? What harm is any of that to the faith or the biblical truths? It doesn’t change what is true it simply answers the question of “How”. Besides, as a believer I believe nothing will ever empirically prove God wrong. Many will believe a new truth does, but it will be flushed out in time.

God was spectacular about hiding himself from our eyes. Almost every bible story has an explanation that allows non-believers to justify their non-belief. Why not evolution? For example, the story about the birth of Christ has a possible correlation to a trinary star event (three stars aligning to look like a huge new star). And the fall of the walls of Jericho may have been true but in a less obviously magical way. God does things that force us to question and debate truths but the substantive truths are not debatable. Being kind, gentle, loving, generous, amiable and trustworthy are all values that promote harmony and strength within a society. This truth cannot be disputed; and these and many similar attributes are the attributes of who God is. But most people do not see God in this way and continue to stumble around looking for a human face, an obviously physical touch and immediate and obvious responses to prayer.

Do I believe that dinosaurs roamed the Earth? Yes. Do I believe the earth is around 4.5 billion years old? Sure. Do I know that it is true? Nope. I am assuming the scientists did their due diligence to verify their facts. I am showing faith in their claims of scientific due diligence but I have a much greater a faith that there was a creator and nothing will prove Him wrong.

I work with genetic algorithms which simulate evolutionary processes by mathematical means (as a hobby). My time researching them tells me that the odds of even one chemical chain just happening to learn to divide in a reproducible manner on any celestial body is astronomical; and to assume is can both divide in such a manner as to learn to procreate, simply by chance, is much too staggering an impossible probability to accept. Either way the decision is a decision based on faith.

You mentioned that “[you] suspect that [I] do some preaching.” No, this is actually the first blog I decided to respond to. I’m not even a member of any local church. At least not yet. I am simply a guy who believes and thought I would throw in my two cents. I am not very different from my peers (other believers). I just happened across this web site a few weeks ago and something just kept nagging at me to respond to some of the posts. There are some really bitter and spiteful people who post here. It’s really disappointing and sad.

I too am “neither a scholar nor philosopher.” I am simply a guy praying my views would help others realize that most Christians do not agree with using abusive methods. I have used such methods in the past, unbeknownst to me, but have learned much more about Christ and myself since then. And I found from browsing these posts that many bloggers here have received abuse from other believers. It is both troubling and disappointing. It is usually young and less confident believers who use these methods, not knowing they are doing so. As for me, I simply thought I would respond to a blog.

By the way, thanks for the clarification of the word ‘obfuscation.’

God’s blessings to you and yours!

Neocognitron said...

Tigg13,

You ask “what [is] that deeper meaning” behind the existence of Adam and Eve. It is that God created one or more beings that had characteristics similar to His own. He created it or them so He could enjoy a being with the freedom to choose its own directions; the freedom to choose right over wrong. These beings, Adam and Eve, were not as “robots or serial killers” but had the free will to choose their directions in life and enough knowledge to name the animals and tend the garden. After eating from the tree of knowledge they received more awareness of the many other choices they had and were provided a guiding influence in the form of the conscience. For them life before the fall was simple since they did not really care about the other possible choice they had, but after they ate they had a desire to test those choices, even lusting after them.

My apologies for referring to the “Tree of Life” rather than the “Tree of Knowledge.” My mistake! I am telling you of my beliefs and failed to qualify the information appropriately. If I were looking this stuff up and regurgitating the bible I might have caught this egregious error before you did. Hopefully you understood and agreed with my point despite this failure. Cheers!

“Sounds to me like you like to make your own choices and you don't seem to expect god to want to punish you for them.” Yes. I do. I don’t simply want to make my own choices, I have to. God simply refuses to make our decisions for us. He wants us to make choices for the right reasons, to validate our commitments to doing right. And, He allows us to make mistakes. The difference between a believer’s choices and those of a non-believer’s is that a believer tries to ask “What would God want me to do?” whenever a situation arises. Believers often fail to make the right choice despite this guidance and must suffer any human penalties as normal (hopefully with grace and dignity). But God allows the mistakes and withholds wrath. The idea is, we’re trying.

But, what about "don't believe in Adam and Eve"? Even you're not 100% sure about that. Are we supposed to be conscienceless? We cannot be without a conscience if we tried. It is an intrinsic part of who we are. Even mass murders without a moral compasses know their actions are wrong and hide them from the public, sometimes for years; certain others, such as the mentally handicapped, show remorse but an inability to stop themselves from committing murder and other vile deeds. So I ask you, is the moral compass really the same as our conscience as many believe? I use the terms interchangeably most of the time as well.
As to whether we should be conscienceless, absolutely not. We should be grateful for the guidance that leads us to know God more fully. We should cherish it and listen to it since it is the one thing in our lives that is free from outside influence. We might train ourselves to ignore it by accepting bad habits into our lives but if we listen to it again we can hear God helping us recognize them and overcome.

”The real problem here is trying to figure out what it is that god wants us to do - what choices we are "supposed" to make. You like to concentrate on the easy choices: don't steal, don't hate, don't kill, etc.” We humans have an amazing ability to complicate the simple, and I am no different. God tells us to take care of our families, love our children, spend time with them and take good care of them. Treat the family pets well, pay off your debts, treat you neighbors with respect and be tolerant of other viewpoints. This is it. This is what God is telling us to do. He even tells us to hide our faith from others so they cannot see us pray. In this way we learn to become humble. He tells us to give part of our income to the church (tithe). In this way we learn to be generous. And we are told to turn the other cheek when struck. In this way we learn to ignore the angry and hostile words of non-believers and rely on God’s strength. We are “supposed” to make the choices that honor Christ because by honoring Him we honor the Father, ourselves, our neighbors, our community and our country. This simple truth is hidden from the eyes of the masses because they rejected it during Old Testament times and most reject it still. God is not telling most people to go overseas to save a single family in the decimated continent of Africa; some He will send, but they alone will hear the call. In your workplace and the jobs you do, be honorable. Ask for a fair wage and do the best job you can. Go an extra mile for someone who really doesn’t deserve it, or give a little time to help the elderly person down the street. In your marriage, be faithful and server your spouse as God serves us. Give to the poor in your local community and have pity and sympathy when appropriate. The choices we are “supposed” to make are very personal and require us to listen to our conscience. If a choice is made easily we are probably not asking “What would God want me to do?” This is because we must fight against our selfish desires. But when we ask what God wants we find that what He wants of us serves our family, our community, our nation and ourselves. If we server ourselves first we almost always choose unwisely.

Tigg13, I hope this answers all of the questions you raised. As for the karma and new age books, I’m not looking for anything else. I have a Lord who loves you and me both and desires the best for both of us. And, I am praying that perhaps you will realize that God is not the one who makes people feel inferior; it is other people who make people feel inferior. As you have heard, God sent Jesus here “not condemn the world but to save it.” That is not condemnation.

Peace from above always!

tigg13 said...

Nice reply, Neo. But I’m still a little confused.

You provided a long list of things that you say god tells us we should do. But, how exactly has god communicated these things? Through the bible? Are you aware that the bible says we are supposed to kill gay people and disobedient children? That it is not only permissible to abuse women and children and to own slaves but it actually instructs people on the best way to do these things?

Or are you of a mind that only certain parts of the bible are to be seen as god’s words? (A risky practice at best)

You also implied that it is through our conscience that god lets us know what we should do. But this is the same conscience that god didn’t want us to have and punished Adam and Eve for acquiring in the first place.

When you listen to your conscience how do you know whether or not its telling you what god wants you to do and not just what you yourself think is right? There are a lot of christians that believe that its impossible for a non-believer to act in an ethically, non-selfish manner, but there are several things that you listed as “choices we are supposed to make” that I do all the time and I never consult god or consider what jesus would do. How do you know that you’re not just giving credit to god for your own desire to be a good person?

Oh, and as far as feeling inferior to god goes, you’re the one that said ,“Hell is the inferiority we feel as we approach the Almighty God.” I myself wouldn’t think that an all loving creator would want us to feel bad whenever he/she/it/they were around.

To be honest, Neo (and I’m not trying to be insulting) you really do sound almost pagan in your ideology. Your ultra-positive approach to the divine, your karma-like view of damnation, your pick-and-choose approach to dogma sounds a lot like Goddess worship to me. (And believe me, I’ve worshiped a lot of Goddesses).

I know you feel happy with your religion, but no matter how you slice it, you have adopted a belief in a god who supposedly killed off nearly the whole planet in a great flood, sent plagues against Egypt, ordered the bloody conquest of the land of Canaan, instituted a long list of bigoted, barbaric laws, is vain, jealous and wrathful, chose drunks, liars, adulterers, theives, traitors and murderers as his messengers, instigated the violent killing of his own son, has sat by silently for 2000 years while innocent people have been tortured and killed through crusades, holy wars, inquisitions and witch hunts - all carried out in his name, and will, without hesitation or mercy allow untold billions of people to suffer simply because they failed to do what he wanted them to do without really making it clear what he wants us to do. And you just don’t sound like somebody who would go along with a god like that.

jfraysse said...

Hey Neo:

I appreciate your time and your polite response! The last paragraph of Tigg13’s last post (2/04/2007 2:04 AM EST) is a great summary of the very “Dark side” of the Hebrew and Christianity faiths in recorded Biblical and secular history. I was going to reply in a similar fashion but Tigg13 said it first and best.

I would like to clarify that I am NOT basing the truth in the Bible, or lack of it, on only the first stories in its pages, even though the creation story is equally as preposterous and clearly a parable or allegory. The topic is “Original Sin” and the need for Sacrifice.

Original Sin

My point was and remains that the actions of god surrounding the “Fall of Man” appears IMMORAL on the part of god himself. Neo, I don’t know you but judging from your courteous responses, I think you and I would be great neighbors! But, if you did to your kids what god did to his, I would report you, if not, take the law into my own hands and I would expect the same response from you if I did this. God himself started this whole affair and was in control of every aspect of it.

Surely, you MUST see how reprobate this incident is and how evil it portrays god. This can’t be right, unless, of course, god is evil or the Biblical image of God is corrupt or God simply doesn’t exist..

As I pointed out, Paul, in Romans 1:19 makes it clear that God has revealed Himself to ALL of us. In fact, the whole of Romans Chapter 1 is his case against the “the heathen”. The Gentiles have sinned (Chapter 1). The Jews have sinned (Chapter 2). And ALL have sinned (Chapter 3). Obviously, god doesn’t need “Original Sin” to condemn us! So, not only is the story and DOGMA of “Original Sin” immoral it also appears to be unnecessary!

I’m not categorically denying a deity here, I’m just not accepting the Biblical picture of him/her/it. You want your God to be good. I understand, but I’m not willing to make excuse after excuse for the way he/she/it is purported to think and behave.

Sacrifice

I stated that the Sacrificial System of the Bible might be corrupt, that is, if coming from a Benevolent God. I offer some extended arguments.

I don’t REQUIRE sacrifice, repayment or even returned love of my children. It was MY decision to have them and MY responsibility to love and raise them. I hope that they will love me too, but I don’t DEMAND this as god does. They owe me nothing. And the LAST thing I would do is require that they sacrifice something to REMIND them that they owe EVERYTHING they have to ME. Neo, this is exactly the rationale you suggest to justify Sacrifice! I respectfully reject it!

But having said that, I also believe and have taught my kids that they should always be thankful for what they have for no other reason than it might be all they are going to get! So, an attitude of thanksgiving is very important and is central to a well balanced and happy life. “Every good and perfect gift is from above…” Jam 1:17 , right?

There are over 250 OT references to sacrifice in the Bible but the REASON for Sacrifice is never explained by god. In the Garden after the fall, god removes the plant-based clothing made by A&E and replaces them with Animal skins, which required the shedding of blood. Cain and Able offered sacrifices, but only Able’s blood sacrifice was accepted. (Poor Cain was probably clueless as to why – we are not told why) Noah, also offered a sacrifice after the flood and Abraham sacrificed Isaac because God told him to, so Abraham obviously understood that God required sacrifice – BLOOD sacrifice, just like the “other pagans”! . The release of Abraham from the vow to sacrifice Isaac is generally interpreted as an argument against human sacrifice, but then we have the example of the sacrifice of Jephthah's virgin daughter (Judges 11). After their Temple was destroyed by Romans in A.D. 70, the Jewish sacrificial cult “died out” (bad pun?), however, the paschal lamb is still sacrificed at Passover.

But if sacrifice is so important, I think it’s odd that it is not even mentioned in the 10 commandments. Only that Yahweh be the only God, with no idols and no bowing down (worship) to them. Then we have Psalms:40:6 stating that Sacrifice is NOT desired by God. Moving to the NT, Jesus railed against the Jewish Religious establishment and overturned the Money Changers in the temple where they were selling “sacrificially pure animals”. Could Jesus’ actions be interrupted as a rejection of the Sacrificial System as well as the act of selling in the temple? Finally, in M't:21:13: Jesus calls the temple a “house of prayer”. Is the absence of the word “sacrifice” conspicuous by its absence?

Paul and the author of Hebrews introduce the idea that the Law, of which the sacrificial system is a part, was a “shadow” of the reality and that Christ is the true image of God and His redemptive plan. (Col 2:17 and Heb 8:5 and Heb 10:1). The dictionary defines the word “Shadow” in varied terms but the ones that have application here are: Shadow: a) “that which casts gloom or sadness over something” and b) a vague indication (or corruption) of the original which is actually casting the shadow”. There is no doubt that the application of the Law caused much sadness in OT times and now continues to do so for millions of thoughtful modern-day Bible students! Also, if the Law and sacrificial system is a “shadow” of God’s original Law-of-Love then it follows that it is also a CORRUPTION of it.

Finally. after thousands of years, millions and millions of books and sermons and thousands of Christian Denominations, all defending “The Truth” we have no consensus. If this “Bible of Truth” is so important, why is it so COMPLICATED? Why is god’s “love letter” so full of evil and open to human interpretation and why hasn’t god stepped in and set the record straight? Was this Jesus’ job? If so, did we humans embellish his “True Message”? Ever read the Gospel of Thomas or all the politics involved in the canonization of the Bible ?

This is NOT to say that there is no wisdom or wonderful life lessons to be learned from studying the Bible “for what it's worth”. In fact, I recommend it for adults, but I also think all Bibles should have warning labels for its violence, bigotry, support of slavery, hatred against the “godless” gays, genocide, suppression of women, rape, incest, child abuse and many unexplained and seemingly immoral acts by “men of god” and god himself.

I continue to insist that all of this points to Occam’s Razor. Thousands , arguably, millions of THEORIES (excuses) concerning “Biblical Truth” indicate the lack of a consistent benevolent author (God) and the most likely CORRUPTION of its real “inspired” author, Man!

I am very grateful for my life, my many blessings, my family and friends and the country in which I live (USA). I love all manner of science and discovery and I look forward to each day with anticipation. I feel a strong bond with my fellow man and seek to improve the human condition with my talents and resources, but I will not make excuses for the “biblical god”. I have faith, if the “True God” exists, He (she/it) will also know my heart and understand that I was simply trying to defend His Honor.

Dano said...

Hey Neocognitron!
You could be right about the big guy looking out for us. I know the people in Florida that got hit by the tornado the other day, think so.

Even though it completely leveled their church, the members are staggering around in the rubble exclaiming "How good God was because he only killed twenty or so "other" people, and spared their lives."

They can't wait to get that church rebuilt so they can start praising "Him" for showing such mercy.

I would be interested in hearing your "take" on what he was trying to teach us on that one?

The bottom line is NEO, there is a lot we could teach Bible God about morals and, empathy, and compassion, and I'm not to sure that he isn't reading this blog for some ideas.

Nah, he wouldn't listen to a bunch of "smart monkeys" who have only been around for a very brief time and are not even sophisticated enough yet, to realize how stupid it is to kill each other over minor theological differences.

But on the other hand we don't arrange to have our children sacrificed to ourselves either.

Dano (God! If you are reading this, scroll up a few posts to read what Lynn wrote: posted: 2/03/2007 6:29 PM EST )

.:webmaster:. said...

There is a an apparent instinctual need within most human beings to believe there is a supreme being out there somewhere who loves and personally attends to human needs. Why we have this instinctual response is an important question, and some interesting theories are being developed.

However, whether or not there is a "Creator god" that is manually making and evolving living things is irrelevant to this particular discussion. NeoCog has effectively derailed the conversation and redirected away from Christian blood sacrifice into an evolution vs. creationism debate. His revealed presupposition is that if evolution can be shown to be incomplete in its explanation of how the natural world works, then logically, Jesus is a god.

This huge jump in "logic" flawed. I think what NeoCog is advocating is belief in the "God of the gaps."

To me, the God of the gaps is less of a belief in god than it is a lack of scientific comprehension coupled with an unwillingness to live with the answer of "I don't know."

In other words, NeoCog is saying, "I don't understand how (insert any scientific idea here) could possibly be true, and having unanswered questions is frustrating, and Christianity boldly claims to provide all the answers, and I like the way that makes me feel, therefore Christianity is the true religion."

Obviously, this is fallacious thinking.

For a thought provoking article on why people believe in god, see "Why do we believe in God?"

Now, if there is a deity in the universe somewhere, how does the existence of a deity make blood sacrifice make sense?

jfraysse said...

Great input and references, Dave (WM) - Thanks! I don’t want to stump for a book or anybody’s particular philosophy but nevertheless there is an interesting book entitled “Why God Won’t Go Away”, by Eugene G. D'Aquili and Vince Rause which posits that humans seek God because our brains are biologically programmed to do so.

If this theory is valid, it could be that Evolution “Likes God”!? How shall I (we) resist Evolution? As a result, I’m perfectly willing to shut up about “People Seeking God”. However, Religious Fascism (Christian, Muslim, whatever) in all its forms is EVIL and is fostered by “Fundementists” studying and interpreting the Bible and Koran, respectively.

I suppose it could be argued that “Religious Atrocities” would have been committed with or without the Bible and Koran but I can’t help thinking that these certainly contributed. Because “god said so” was the primary reason President Bush said he finally decided to invade Iraq, rather than listen to the counsel of past presidents and his military and civilian advisors. Thank God the Founding Fathers had the good sense to separate Church and State! Can’t we see the danger here? What a mess!

We have digressed a bit here, but these have been good inputs. I still like the idea of “Biblical Warning Labels”.

Enough said. Stick a fork in me – I’m done!

Neocognitron said...

Ok, I’m going to try to respond to these questions in order:

Tigg13,

You ask “how exactly has god communicated these things [that God tells us we should do]? Through the bible? God tell us what we should do though our consciences, through other people, and through the situations, difficulties and blessings in our lives. Is it right to murder? Absolutely not, and there are judges, attorneys and a legal system setup to deal with such people. Are we rewarded for hard work and ethical living? Absolutely. Hard workers seldom fret about losing their jobs or being punished for failing to meet quotas. Ethical workers are seldom the targets for harassment or workplace abuse lawsuits. So, God communicates these things through what we call morality laws or societal norms.

But beware that human social norms and morals change over time, but God’s do not. So look to understand God’s morality and not man’s. They are very different. For example, in biblical times the traditional legal system was just emerging and family tribes were responsible for metering out family justice. If a family member was raped by men of another tribe, men in the victim’s family were to take revenge. God allowed this revenge and provided rules for it, but His ultimate desire has always been and still is that the victim’s family would learn to forgive. For this God given freedom God also provided revenge laws which included the limitation of “an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth” rule. We typically hear this phrase used to validate or even encourage taking revenge but it is actually meant to reign in the vendetta. In this way a tribe whose cow was stolen would not go and take the entire herd from the offending tribe. It has the same implications in modern times: If you buy a cup of coffee and burn your own hand by spilling your own hot coffee onto it you should not sue for millions of dollars. The “eye for an eye” statement is meant to reign in ridiculous compensation penalties.

Are you aware that the bible says we are supposed to kill gay people and disobedient children? That it is not only permissible to abuse women and children and to own slaves but it actually instructs people on the best way to do these things? These kinds of laws were meant for small communities, usually tribal people whose entire makeup and way of life could be tainted or severely damaged by only a few immoral people. Also, these are man’s laws and God allows us to decide how to administer punishment for crimes by men against men. It is part of our blessing of free will. God’s rules about such matters are meant to limit the suffering of the victims and the penalties against the perpetrators. It is evidence of His divine mercy.

As for slavery, it is not a big deal. In history, if a tribe member was killed at the hands of another tribe member the victim’s family could “own” the murderer. It was a fair deal if alternative was death. You simply took your chances that the slave owners were reasonable. Today we put criminals into prisons, have prison labor farms and factories and use prisoners for various odd jobs cleaning city parks and roads. How different are we? Different tribes in history had different social morays for treating slaves and our various governments treat prisoners differently. Slavery or prison is still better than death on the cross, the rack, the scourge or the electric chair. At least you are alive and can change your ways.

Are you of a mind that only certain parts of the bible are to be seen as God’s words? No. I believe the entire bible is God’s word through the hand of each author. The problem is that we are prone to misinterpret it because of our biases and unwillingness to see. I also accept that new books may be added that provide a clearer picture of who God is, and that a book or two may eventually be removed. But God will still be the same god no matter how we perceive Him.

You also implied that it is through our conscience that god lets us know what we should do. But this is the same conscience that god didn’t want us to have and punished Adam and Eve for acquiring in the first place. I absolutely believe that God did want us to have a conscience and that He knew full well that Adam and Eve would fall. But it is not the conscience that God truly desired for us; it was the knowledge of good and evil that He wanted to give us so we would be more like Him. The conscience was provided as an ever-present guide through that knowledge, assisting us to make the right choices and to differentiate them from one another. He used the failure of Adam and Eve as the springboard to teach all of us together how absolutely critical it is that we choose the good rather than evil.

When you listen to your conscience how do you know whether or not its telling you what god wants you to do and not just what you yourself think is right?
When you choose a path it is not the choice that makes a choice right or wrong, it is the reasons you made that choice. For example: two soldiers on a hill overlooking enemy soldiers on the battlefield. One soldier is thinking how great it will be to watch the bullets pass through the enemy soldier’s skull. The other soldier is praying “Lord, please help me aim true and help this conflict between our people end.” Both of these soldiers make the same choice: they choose to fight. But the second soldier makes his reasons not about himself but about his country, his family and his people. As a person seeks a closer relationship with God they make the wrong choices for honorable reasons and learn better next time how to make the right ones. This is why I say that God does not punish people for making the wrong choices, at least not when they are trying to do what is right (referring to a previous posting).

Is it ”[possible] for a non-believer to act in an ethically, non-selfish manner…?” Sure. God gave all of us His image: the ability to be kind, generous, courteous, loving, humble, graceful, strong, powerful, gentle, etc. God even rewards the non-believers with the same righteous gifts hoping they will one day turn toward Him. These rewards include peace, joy, love, happiness, stable finances, grace, generosity, etc. Yes, I intentionally included the qualities about the image of God with those of the rewards. This is because when we love we receive love in return (although not always from the receiver). When we give generously we receive generosity from others and peace knowing that person or family will be better off. When we are humble we allow others to share in our work and we find joy in knowing we completed tasks together. So, yes, it is possible for non-believers to act ethically and non-selfishly.

How do you know that you’re not just giving credit to god for your own desire to be a good person? Good question. There is a story in Luke 19 about a nobleman who traveled to a distant country. Before he left he gave each of his ten servants an amount of money to hold while he was away. Each servant took the money and when the nobleman returned presented the money back to the nobleman. The first servant greatly returned the money given and had multiplied it greatly, and was given more. The second servant who was given a moderate amount of money returned that and a moderate amount more. The nobleman gave the servant a moderate amount more. The third servant had simply held onto the money and kept it safe and thus returned what was given to it back to the nobleman saying: “I was afraid of you because you are a demanding person; you take up what you did not lay down and harvest what you did not plant.” To which the nobleman replied: “You knew I was a demanding person, taking up what I did not lay down and harvesting what I did not plant. Your own words will condemn you.” And thus he took the servant’s money and punished him.

This story displays a small part of the reason I give credit to God for all my successes. When I was a young believer and new to the faith I followed because I was afraid of God’s wrath, which is a totally valid and worthy reason to follow. But I thought the results of my works were my own doing. As my faith grew I realized that God has been very present in every aspect of my desire to be a good person. He established the community I live in where I practice being good, He established the rules which guide me and are far older than any existing country, state or nation. And, He provides people and resources which support me in achieving this level of morality. Besides that, giving credit to others for things that we do is part of learning to be humble. God does not need the credit, He wants us to learn humility and grace. And, He deserves the credit. He did not have to create us, He just chose to so others could share in true glory.

To be honest, Neo (and I’m not trying to be insulting) you really do sound almost pagan in your ideology? Don’t worry, I’m not insulted. It would be kind of dumb to post a Christian viewpoint on an anti-Christian blog without expecting criticism, though I don’t take your comment as criticism. As for picking and choosing the things I believe, I don’t. I evaluate the words in the bible, study them and try to determine the author’s intent and to figure out why they were said. I do not believe any part of the bible should be ignored since all of it can teach us more about ourselves and our creator.

I know you feel happy with your religion, but no matter how you slice it, you have adopted a belief in a god who supposedly killed off nearly the whole planet in a great flood, sent plagues against Egypt, ordered the bloody conquest of the land of Canaan, instituted a long list of bigoted, barbaric laws, is vain, jealous and wrathful, chose drunks, liars, adulterers, thieves, traitors and murderers as his messengers, instigated the violent killing of his own son, has sat by silently for 2000 years while innocent people have been tortured and killed through crusades, holy wars, inquisitions and witch hunts - all carried out in his name, and will, without hesitation or mercy allow untold billions of people to suffer simply because they failed to do what he wanted them to do without really making it clear what he wants us to do. And you just don’t sound like somebody who would go along with a god like that. It is common to look at the bible from a modern perspective because that is the age we are in, but we often forget that historic perceptions were vastly different and many biblical books were written to these people, not us. So we cannot apply modern values and morals to these texts. It is the underlying messages we must look at to understand what God was teaching. For example, slavery is obviously wrong according to modern precepts, but historically the practice allowed criminals who might otherwise be killed to survive and even return to their lives. We laugh at polygamy and the obviously selfishness of it in our society yet historically if you had many children through many wives your family had the workers necessary to tend the animals and fields. So, I contend that my beliefs are not those of one who believes in your new age karma beliefs. My beliefs stem from the Jewish faith which can be traced back well before the birth of the Muslim faith and is the first recorded religion. And, if God exists, wouldn’t you think He began telling people long before the advent of the printing press? Long before the ideas of karma and new age beliefs? I appreciate your suggestions about these new ideas but I want to follow proven practices that are not offshoots or conglomerations of other religions. And I am only one small voice who holds these beliefs.
As for people doing things in God’s name, God is not responsible for them just as McDonalds is not responsible if some customer runs around wearing a McDonalds t-shirt claiming “free cheese burgers inside.” People have misrepresented God since time began, so what’s new? Why hold that against God?
I also believe that God has not been sitting by for 2,000 years while the world falls apart as you suggest. He has been orchestrating the rise and fall of civilizations, preparing for the return of Jesus and for the many years of plague, famine and pestilence that will come during the tribulation times. Many people, believers and non-believers alike, do not understand or accept that God both allows and causes massive catastrophic events. He does this to change the minds of entire populations. During the tribulation times these events will influence many to harden their hearts, but more recent events such as the tsunami in the Indian ocean are intended (at least in my view) to help Muslims, Christians, Jews and other people to work together more closely; to accept that we all are important and worthy of life no matter how remote, no matter our doctrines or dogma, and no matter our language.

Peace!

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

jfraysse,


You commented: “Surely, you MUST see how reprobate this incident is and how evil [the fall of man] portrays god. This can’t be right, unless, of course, god is evil or the Biblical image of God is corrupt or God simply doesn’t exist.. I will tell you that our perceptions of the biblical image of God are most certainly corrupt, but not the biblical images themselves. We perceive things we read differently based on our current state, the place we are in our lives when we read them. This allows us to read a bible passage one day and understand one meaning. Then, two weeks later we read the same passage and find a new meaning. The original meaning is often still correct but because our lives have changed we see additional meanings in the words. All of them true and accurate. God is a very deep and complex being; we won’t understand his simplicity easily.

I still don’t see anything immoral or reprobate about God providing free will to Adam and Eve. After all, he gave them thousands of things to do and only one restriction. Their punishment was that they had to learn to use and control this knowledge of good and evil. This sounds like a fantastic plan! Force the kids to learn to use their gifts. We do it every day by controlling the finances of teenagers through restrictions in their allowances, or allowing them access only occasionally to the family car until they have proven they are really ready to drive. It is responsible parenting.

You are entirely right when you say “god doesn’t need “Original Sin” to condemn us! We condemn ourselves every day; although I would not go so far as saying it is un-necessary. If “original sin” did not exist we would see even more people running around claiming to be perfect and sinless than already do. There is already an over-abundance of holier-than-thou believers and non-believers alike. If “original sin” did not exist this number would have sky rocketed long ago. So again, God has done something for our sake and not His own.

The comments about sacrifices and the reason you reject the idea are understandable but off-track. God does not ask us to sacrifice as “repayment or even returned love.” He doesn’t ask us to do so for His sake at all. Sacrifices are a teaching tool as are most rules He has established. They are meant to teach us to focus our minds on the narrow path we have to walk, to help us understand the mercy and grace He shows, and to teach us to give up our possessions so we learn generosity. In biblical times sacrifices were community events where feasting took place and took a long time to prepare and host. They had to kill the animals they were going to eat anyway so why not do it in a manner that honors God? They even passed down the rules on how to field dress various animals in their religious doctrine. During these festivals the priests would recite stories about ancestors so the people would learn and remember their world and their origin. So, sacrifices were a necessary part of life (eating) dedicated to God. We have to eat, so let’s dedicate the event to God and do so in His name. We’re going to slaughter this pig anyway, let’s write down the rules on how to do it and thank God while we do.

There are over 250 OT references to sacrifice in the Bible but the REASON for Sacrifice is never explained by god. Well, I would agree with you there. Why? Because God was watching to see if any one of us could even approach the level of perfection he sought. The evidence was as clear then as it is today, but the people rejected it and still do. Today, however, we have an advantage. We have the history of the life and death of Jesus, our Christ, to look back upon. We see in Him the perfection we cannot hope to achieve without help and we remember that sacrifices had another meaning: atonement. Again, God uses sacrifices not for His purposes but for ours: to wash away our sins. The blood of the animal does not actually wash the sinner, but the act of professing our sins helps us to think about our mistakes and to begin correcting them.

If this “Bible of Truth” is so important, why is it so COMPLICATED? Why is god’s “love letter” so full of evil and open to human interpretation and why hasn’t god stepped in and set the record straight? Was this Jesus’ job? God steps in every day to set the record straight for millions of people, believers and non-believers alike. He opens the minds of those seeking the truth and washes the feet of those walking the path of righteousness. He allows us the free will to complicate our own lives and to make difficult a very simple idea. It is us who complicate the simple message of how to live. We simply love, give, care, share, have hope, show mercy, show compassion and so many other things. But now that God the Father has sent His son into this world and made understanding these ideas so easy, He has taken away Old Testament laws and replaced these with a single command: ”This is My Son, Jesus, whom I love. Listen to Him.”

May your life continue in the blessings you receive through your family, friends and country. And many more beyond them!


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

Dano,


Ah. Ha! A bit of sarcastic humor there! About the tornado in Florida and it leveling a church and all. Yes. Yes, I can see why you might allow that to trouble your faith. But my faith is deeper than that since I do not expect God to stop the world from spinning now that I am here. My work is insignificant and unnecessary to him but He appreciates me doing it anyway. I know this because I can feel it inside of me, giving me pride when I try my best even when my best is quite poor. As I learn I make fewer mistakes (both willingly and unwillingly). God has bigger plans than those I make so I choose to roll with His.

This goes back to the question of “why do bad things happen to good people?” Well that certainly is the humanistic approach. Why not ask all these questions at once: “Why do good things happen to bad people? Why does anything happen to mediocre people? Why does [insert diametrically opposed event here] happen to [insert diametrically opposed object here]?” God set the world in motion and we are all subject to its forces. The only reason God leaves any of us here is because His work is not done. The time of the tribulation is still approaching. It will still be a terrible time to live through. The return of Christ is still approaching. Satan’s thousand year reign is still approaching. We are insignificant but God still loves us. That doesn’t mean we will live past our time. What it does mean is that the lives of true believers will touch the lives of others more fully; that their lives will have been more fulfilling and their deaths more peaceful. God has a reason for doing as he does. He may allow a auto accident victim trapped the wreckage to speak with his loved ones one last time; He may take the pain of a mother away so she can die peacefully; or He may choose to take the life of a murderer by the injection needle rather than at the hands of his cellmates. In any case, when it is your time, you go. Death is not the end of life unless you have nothing to live for. Any guesses as to the reasons these catastrophes happen are purely that: guesses.

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

.:webmaster:.,


Your belief that I believe God to be the “God of the gaps” is flawed. I believe Him to be the author of everything – gaps and all. I even encourage scientific exploration to find out how He put it all together for us to enjoy. If you disagree, you are welcome to your opinion and better luck next time in posing a challenging counter argument!


May all of you prosper in your ways!

.:webmaster:. said...

Neo,

Perhaps I didn't explain myself well enough. Your logic seems to be that if there are any gaps in scientific knowledge (which of course there are many), then that somehow is evidence for your "belief." That's what I mean by the "God of the Gaps."

It's been painfully obvious from your initial post that you think God is all-in-all. We all know you have a belief. What you don't have, however, is any evidence supporting your belief. Quoting your holy book or favorite doctrines is powerless and evidence of nothing, except your belief.

You are long-winded (so to speak) but so far you've offered nothing but your belief. Again, your belief is not evidence of anything except your belief. There is no counter-argument to someone who has a mystical belief without evidence, except to point out that there is no evidence to support the belief.

Hopefully, now, I've made myself clearer. However, I have a feeling that it will be lost on you.

Best of luck living in a mental fantasy while trying to make a living after college.

Peace.

tigg13 said...

Wow, Neo, where do I begin?

There was a post on this site a couple of weeks ago about cognitive dissonance. You might want to scroll down to that and give it a read.

In question after question, asked by both myself and others, you have completely side stepped the issues and turned the conversations into a warm-and-fuzzy-let’s-all-just-be-nice-and-everything-will-be-alright sermon. In fact, your answers have been so silly that at times I was wondering if you aren’t just playing a joke at our expense.

For instance, I asked how exactly does god communicate with you and you replied, through our conscience as well as other ways - you just have to know what to listen for. Not a very exact answer. And then you began citing examples of what you think god thinks. Its god because you say its god, nothing more.

And when I asked if it was possible that you were not giving yourself credit for being a good person you basically said that god deserves all the credit because you think god deserves all the credit. (Are you sure your not just trying to be funny?)

The original post was about the ot custom of making sacrifices and how they related to the story of Adam and Eve. Your response, basically was that god wanted people to make sacrifices because it was a good thing to do and it must have been a good thing to do otherwise god would have told us to do it. And original sin, well that must have been a good thing too or god wouldn’t have allowed Adam and Eve to have been duped by the serpent. Circular, illogical and damned near heretical by any orthodox christian standard.

If you seriously believe the things that you’ve written (which, as I said, I not so sure of) then you have so completely immersed yourself in your god/jesus/bible fantasy that any further discussion would be meaningless.

Communication is a two way street. If you can’t (or won’t) try to understand any other point of view but your own then this is just a waste of time.

Dano said...

NEO,
If it's possible to get to heaven on superfluous language, and hyperbole, all wrapped up in obfuscation NEO, "you da man"

Someday you are going to start cleaning out your "God Hole," so that you can fill it with a little "reality", and you are going to find that you have been so afflicted by spiritual verbosity for so long, that you no longer owner of that space.

Your cult will own that pathetic part of your brain, lock stock and bible.
Dano (I'd hate to be standing in line "behind" NEO at the pearly Gate)

Neocognitron said...

.:webmaster, Tigg13, and Dano,

I have responded to your questions about my beliefs and made every attempt to clearly illustrate the reasons behind them. I have made no attempt to obfuscate or hide the reasons yet you still believe the reasons illogical and/or untrue. What more can I do if you reject the truth of a simple man with simple beliefs? Still, I pray the best for you all in your pursuit of the truth. I hope you find it. For I hope we will meet face to face in our lives beyond death and share drinks together. The fight is honorable and worth the cost of simply having faith of believing: “This is my Son. Listen to him.”

Go in peace!

.:webmaster:. said...

"I have [...] made every attempt to clearly illustrate the reasons behind them (my beliefs)."

You believe in your beliefs because you believe in your beliefs and that is the only reason you've presented for believing in your beliefs.

I got it. I have complete comprehension that that is what you are saying.

You, however, do not comprehend that the reason you believe in your beliefs is because you believe in your beliefs and that is why you believe in your beliefs.

I'll pass on the offer of drinks. In fact, no thanks under and circumstances. Conversing with you for more than a few brief moments would annoy me far beyond the point of total exasperation.

Sincerely.

twincats said...

Judaism is the first recorded religion??

I learned better than that in Art History, fer pete's sake!

Egyptian mythology, anyone? (yes, I know it's not the first, but it did predate Judaism.)

tigg13 said...

Ditto

tigg13 said...

Whoops, I was ditto-ing Dave the WM, not you twincats.

Not that I wouldn't ditto you (they've got Goddess statues over 10,000 years old), but my intention was to ditto Dave.

:)

Dano said...

Neocognitron wrote:
"The fight is honorable and worth the cost of simply having faith of believing: “This is my Son. Listen to him.”

Dan explains "faith":
Faith is believing in shit without any testable, repeatable, verifiable evidence. We don't have faith in Jesus because, if he "was" a real person, all of the magical aspects of the story are not verifiable.

In other words Neo, the trouble with having blind faith is that it is blind, and therefore unreliable, and indeed dangerous.

The Muslims have faith that when they blow themselves up in a market place and kill a couple of hundred innocent people, they are immediately going to a wonderful place and be met by 72 beautiful black eyed virgins. That's real faith!
Dan (FAITH IS YOUR PROBLEM)

eel_shepherd said...

NeoCog, you're a Xtian because you live in the States and have followed the line of least resistance. That you can rattle off the party line of that line of least resistance does not in any way strengthen that party line.

[*takes a moment to go and wash, before turning to the subject of this thread*]

If god created Adam & Eve "in his image", and then stuck them in the garden and didn't tell them about the wiles of The Wicked One, how is it that A&E fell into a trap that god wouldn't have fallen into? It's a reductio ad absurdum, isn't it? It follows that our original premise is false --- A&E could _not_ have been created in god's image. (Since they were created without antibodies to The Wicked One.)

On the matter of blood sacrifices, also known as fucking killing animals, it is reported frequently in the bible that god likes the smell of these offered-up corpses. Smells sweet to him, doncha know. Sort of an olfactory pathology that he should get looked into. The key point here is that it's the smell of the sacrifices that floats god's boat, not the smell coming off the fevered brows of the guys doing the sacrificing. So trying to "agree" that god doesn't "need" anything from us, in the line of charred corpses, won't cut it. The bible makes it clear that god would not be happy just with some shmuck who mistakenly _thinks_ he's just offed one of his quadrupedal pals. It ain't the motion, it's the meat, with this guy.

Neocognitron said...

Oh, fantastic! I had lost interest with this thread, but you, eel-shepherd, have renewed my faith. Your argument is sound and your manners controlled. I was not going to return to this thread otherwise.

I live in the States and am fortunate to do so. And because of our nation’s Christian heritage we all have the freedoms to choose our paths, but that does not mean that the Christian way is simple or the “path of least resistance” because we are surrounded by non-believers and believers who so deeply hide their faith that one cannot tell the difference. Even among ourselves we have disagreements and division, but the differences are small compared to those on non-believers since all believers share the same core belief that God is and was and will always be. We seek to keep an open mind about why God has shown Himself to our eyes when it is still so hard for us to see and why he will not show himself to all of us. Because of this anyone on this blog site has as much chance of helping me understand my faith more fully than any believer. But the core fact that I believe in God will not change. Many call it stubbornness. I call it conviction and standing on principals.

As for Adam and Eve not having the “antibodies” of the wicked one I remind you that A&E were made in God’s image, not out of His skin, blood and bones. They were given the capacity for rationalization, for kindness, nurturing and love. They had the capacity for hate and disobedience but there was no temptation within their minds; for just as God has given us a conscience we also still retain the temptations. So I tell you, yes. A&E were made in God’s image and we still suffer the consequences.

You moved on to blood sacrifices… The bible refers many times to the smells of the animals as pleasing to Him, Yes. But it is a literary reference to the faith the people show. It appears you have already made up your mind on this debate so I will not trouble you further to prove my point. There are many biblical references to this fact and perhaps one day you will look again.

I appreciate your questions and comments! Later!