The Gospel Story – Act 3: Future Hope and God’s Wrath

February 15, 2009 at 1:54 pm 88 comments

In Act 1, we discussed the events that lead to the fall of our world (which brought about death and destruction and nasty things that we do not like). In Act 2, we discussed the love of God in sending Jesus to save us from a problem which we had no part in creating. Finally, in this act we will be discussing the wonderful news that death has been conquered and Jesus is coming back again and how you can make the most advantage of the vagueness associated with this notion and help the church make money and thereby fulfill the great commission and help God!

Where did we leave off? Oh, yes, right about where Mel Gibson left Jesus: in the grave. Well, you know that tiny clip of Jesus walking naked out of the tomb? That, my new believer friends, is only the beginning.

You see, Jesus not only died, but he rose again according to the Scriptures on the third day (I would highly recommend never looking for the passage in the Old Testament that predicts this because you wouldn’t want to damage your new found faith!) He did this to conquer one of mankind’s greatest personified enemies: death. And this was also done so that Jesus would become the first fruits (that is a fancy sacrifice) among all mankind. Just as Adam died and brought death into the world, so Jesus rose and brought life and light to all mankind. This is joy and wonder of your faith, my brothers and sisters!

Now that you know what happened, the next important thing is to think about the future because the future can even be scarier when God is involved (remember the flood?). God has promised to some day not only return but to destroy the entire earth with fire. While this may sound simple, this is extremely complicated theology because God needed to give theologians something super hard to study while he was being patient for every elect person to be saved. So what follows is a careful analysis as to how you can become a master end-times sleuth! Put on your urim and thummim and grab your seven golden lamp stands and join in the fun that is predicting (or discovering) the future!

You see, there is one major tactic to interpreting Bible prophecy that everyone must know. Because most of the Bible is prophecy and does not know it yet, if you do some clever pattern matching between events that have actually happened and passages that look like they are talking about those events, you can end up a neat mosaic of beautiful (even though they look disjointed) passages of fulfilled and not-yet-fulfilled prophecies. All of the passages that fit events that actually happen might be fulfillment of prophecies. All the tiny pieces of passages that do not yet fit can normally fit into one of many hermeneutical categories that account for these things (like double prophecies and such.) As any eschatological (yep, that’s a big word for studying future things!) expert will tell you, it is super hard to tell if your pattern matching of actual events to Biblical narratives (vague and disjointed though they may appear) is accurate until new events happen that break your hypothesis and then you have to start over. But that is part of the fun! Try, try again! Never give up and let Hal Lindsay be your role model! Keep your head in your hat and give it the ole’ Mormon try! Eventually you’ll dig up a pattern that cannot be refuted and then you can sell millions of books and inspire an entire generation to frenzied converting with your prophetic discovery!

You see, now that you are saved, you have to just trust that the Bible knows what it is talking about even when it does not make sense because the key is to make the church some cents and to not allow some smart-ass church member to pick up the foul scent of what you are doing. Part of the cool thing about eschatology is that it is ever morphing into a closer version of the truth (this is proven by the fact that almost everyone in the last two thousand years has been wrong and there are not a lot of options left!). The trick is to sound prophetic yourself while fulfilling some old prophecies that everyone is as yet confused about.

The truth is that no one yet knows exactly what or when Christ’s return and massive Armageddon of bloodshed (with blood being so deep it reaches the bridle of a horse even though people do not use horses anymore in battles!) of all God’s enemies will happen, because only God knows. Not even the son knows, even though He is God (because God can make Himself forget things).

If you decide to study end times, here are some tips:

Make sure your prophetic interpretations and fulfillments include lots of bloodshed followed by great amounts of peace for the faithful. Most believers are annoyed that God rarely, if ever, actually shows up in this lifetime so they want retribution and justice in the future. But not too much bloodshed, because you do not want to reduce the love or patience of God to a human level and you do not want believers being terrified of what is going to happen to their unbelieving relatives. Remember, God is perfect love and perfect wrath. Try to avoid Hebrews 10 if you can because it might scare people. And Hebrews 6. And 2 Peter 2. And some of the scary passages in Revelation. Oh, and if people notice you are avoiding these passages, just say it is a “difficult passage” and lots of scholars “struggle” with proper interpretation. And if they keep pressing, you might be able to point out that some scholars do not think they were even written by an apostle and they might not even be inspired. And if they press you more, tell them that they are showing a lack of faith. And if that does not satisfy them, they are obviously showing an unhealthy interest in controversy and disputes about interpretation of Scripture and are causing divisions and should be treated like an unbeliever until they feel remorse (for being neglected) and repent of their waywardness and then you can invite them back into the fold as a brother. So make sure you balance that line between God’s wrath toward His enemies and God’s mercy toward those who are still unbelievers very well. You might even try ignoring this topic because it can get really emotional for people.

Jesus once supposedly said that this massive list of end-times prophecies he made would happen in the very same generation. Don’t make the mistake of calling this an error! Obviously he didn’t mean that. After all, God cannot lie and so Jesus cannot lie and so even though it looks like he made a mistake he did not! So when you run across a prophecy that looks like it has failed, just remember that you probably should split the passage into bite-sized pieces and convince your congregation that that is the proper way to break up the passage because you know more Greek than they do. Yes, that’s right, learn Greek. The Bible can only properly be understood in its original language. This also gives you a nice barrier (like the Catholic church once used to great effectiveness) to convince the amateur readers of the Bible that your interpretation is more accurate and they could not possibly understand what it actually meant unless they had special training like you! Oh, and always give those spiritual babes in your care the impression that most scholars are in agreement with your interpretation or else they will start to think that being an expert theologian is nothing less than coming up with your own interpretation and teaching it as if it were true. And, of course, that is not what is happening because you have the Holy Spirit who is leading you into all truth!

About precision in prophecies: this is a tricky subject. For example, Ezekiel once prophesied that the city of Tyre would be scraped “bare like a rock” by Nebuchadnezzar. He also prophesied about a new temple, a new priesthood, and a new prince that never actually happened. First of all, never, ever, ever be this specific! The trick is to combine vagueness with a sense of awe. If your prophetic interpretation is awe-striking (like cataclysmic or something) then people ignore the fact that you are not providing specifics. If you do provide specifics, make sure that they are self-fulfilling. You have to get people to want the prophecy to come true so bad that they do the very things which cause the prophecy to come true! This is not dishonesty, it is helping God because God has to work through people who have an illusion of free will and so you are actually helping God get the glory in the end! Second, when doing eschatology, rank the prophecies in order of “difficulty of understanding”. Make sure that your prophecy fits the clearer passages effectively and when you cannot make it fit the more difficult passages (like the Ezekiel one), just say “well, that is a difficult prophecy that we do not fully understand” and leave it at that. The truth is that there are tons of prophecies that are completely misunderstood by everyone in the church because God has lots of mysteries. This helps keep the awe factor up and keeps people worshiping God in anticipation as to how in the world he can make all the confusing disjointed Biblical prophecies actually happen in any conceivable order within a time-space-continuum. But God is God and He cannot lie and since all the books we have in the canon have to be fully inspired because if they were not this would mean God failed in preserving His Word and so we cannot have that so we have to just make do with what we have and so we just keep trusting God and making everything fit as best we can. One example: nobody is supposed to know the day or the hour Jesus is coming back so if you find a nice pattern in the Bible that seems to predict something that specific you had better start over! Make sure your prophetic interpretations are no more specific than one year, and always provide an exception so if you are wrong you can name your next books in one number increments from the previous one.

Anyway, despite all the confusion about pre-millenialism, a-millenialism, post-millenialism, the recent invention of the rapture, Paul’s confusing statement about “we who remain”, the entire book of Revelation not appearing to be written by John because of the Greek used, and the odd way in which eschatological views seem to change in the New Testament Pauline letters, and the bizarrely easy way people like Thessalonians became convinced Christ had already returned in their time, and all the other confusing things about New Testament prophecy – the truth is that it is all trustworthy and you should not question this. If you get super confused, just fall back on the simple promise that Jesus will return and nobody knows when and just trust God that even though He put all this stuff in His Word supposedly so we could have a decent understanding of what is happening in this crazy world you actually do not have to understand any of it to be saved.

And at the end of the day you should be focusing on making disciples anyway (known to those deceived in the world as “proselytizing”), because Christianity is not about influencing world events or lobbying for change or convincing people your end-times interpretation is accurate. It is about telling people about Jesus and saving as many people as God has elected. As long as you do that, you cannot fail, and you do not want to be one of the poor souls who gets whipped with many lashes when Jesus returns. Actually, make sure you really know Jesus because you also do not want to be one of the poor souls who hears “I never knew you, depart from me…” That would really suck.

So, in conclusion, make sure you are not so confused that it causes you to doubt your salvation or the promises of God. So only study just enough so that you feel comfortable about your faith, and never put yourself in a position where any current events could cause you to doubt your faith. In other words, never be too specific and make sure your theology cannot be contradicted by reality. And keep trusting that Jesus will return. And never add to the Bible or you will be cursed with tons of plagues like Revelation says.

So, in conclusion, to speak in a similar vein as the Apostles Paul and John:

To God be the glory. Come quickly, Lord Jesus. Come quickly. May your wrath be poured out on the enemies of the church so that your infinite patience may become known in saving all the elect from the eternal damnation that all the non-elect are destined to find not because they were not elect but because they chose with their illusion of free will to reject the Lamb of God and His infinite mercy in choosing some people to be elect even though His blood is sufficient for the entire world according to some theologies and the apostle John and all people have to do is repent and turn to the true church and the true gospel which is so evident even though those outside the church think it is not clear enough to warrant listening to any of it at all and they think that the Bible is not inspired when it is and it is so obvious to everyone and they are just suppressing the truth even though they probably have no choice because they are blinded from the truth by Satan who is bigger than them but you will destroy Satan someday and death and all the bad things that are part of the curse because Adam ate a fruit and did not have a choice because you chose before the foundation of the world that all this would happen and so this is all about You and to You be the ultimate glory for being so wise and awesome and in control of everything and for being the Alpha and the Omega and the Beginning and the End and for sending your Holy Spirit who makes this all so obvious and ultimately we thank you for your sacrifice and to You be the glory for saving your Creation! Amen.

I hope you all have enjoyed this little series. I doubt any noticed, but I discovered that the first day I began posting this series caused the content of my posts to almost fit perfectly with the dates. I posted Act 1, about sin and the fall of mankind on Friday the 13th. Act 2, about God’s love and the death of the Savior was posted on Valentines Day. And finally, the resurrection and return of Christ and eschatology (this Act 3) was posted on a Sunday when the gospel story holds that Christ rose from the dead. If I were still a Christian, I would consider this timing divine, but, well, sometimes things just happen, you know?

- Josh

Entry filed under: Josh. Tags: , .

The Gospel Story – Act 2: Human Sacrificial Love d-C hits 1,000,000 views

88 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Lucian  |  February 15, 2009 at 3:24 pm

    learn Greek. The Bible can only properly be understood in its original language.

    Yet nobody’s interested in what the Greeks themselves have to say on this matter.

  • 2. Jeffrey  |  February 15, 2009 at 4:01 pm

    “discovered that the first day I began posting this series caused the content of my posts to almost fit perfectly with the dates.”

    Don’t sell yourself short. No parallels could be that beautiful unless you were inspired by God!

  • 3. Jeffrey  |  February 15, 2009 at 4:15 pm

    For another great summary, watch the Bible in a minute.

  • 4. bipolar2  |  February 15, 2009 at 4:24 pm

    ** God’s Greek a common language of impotent hatred **

    Here’s Nietzsche’s joke about NT Greek — “It was very clever of God to learn to speak Greek, and not to speak it better.”

    Today’s common business language is English variously garbled around the planet — now as engrish in japan then as spanglish in mexico. In the mediterranean basin of the NT period (100 BCE-200 CE) period the common language of business was greek, koine greek, common greek.

    This is the language God spoke — a vulgarization somtimes with aramaic overtones (Paul of Tarsus) or syriac overtones (John of Patmos). Lots of folks used koine, poor folks and slaves included — the ones God “wanted” to reach. God becomes a traveling salesman. (No surprise. Paul made tents and sold them before becoming a traveling god huckster.)

    Educated people, especially Roman patricians, learned classical Greek (like Sophocles’) from their greek slave tutors. But, you see, God “chose” not to speak better because the masters were born not to experience Christ’s forgiving grace and thus be damned forever.

    Now you can smile at Nietzsche’s cleverness!

    . . . on to John of Patmos, supposed author of The Apocolypse.

    ** impotent hatred is the mother of revenge literature **

    At the root of Western religiosity do indeed lie disgusting near-eastern doctrines of a god’s return, revenge, punishment — but “the” apocalypse?

    Of course, religions local in time or space dominate cramped thinking. Xianity looks important because it’s too close. So, step back for a better look.

    There are *apocalypses*, plural. The ecpyrosis of Stoic philosophy is a fiery end-of-time when time begins again to unroll itself exactly as before. Norse myth tells of a very different end by fire, Ragnarok — the Twilight of the Gods. Hinduism proclaims vast cycles of cosmic death and rebirth, without revenge motifs.

    Among near-eastern religions, zoroastrianism invents apocalyptic (ca.1300 BCE). The World Savior comes to renew his creation, raise the dead, punish the wicked One, and dwell with his “children of light” forever in a blessed realm on an Earth made whole.

    The revenge filled doctrine of a terrible judgment to be visited upon the unrighteous gets taken up into judaism, appearing in the book ascribed to Daniel. Thereafter, judaism produces two important apocalypses: Jubilees and 1Enoch. Xianity draws inspiration from these hellenistic jewish documents to produce the vendetta inspired “Apocalypse” of John of Patmos.

    They key to understanding all apocalypses within the Near Eastern group of religions lies in realizing that each gets created during a time of foreign invasion, occupation, and sectarian violence. Each is a product of an impotent desire for revenge which cannot be expressed except in words, words veiled in obscure symbols and arcane references.

    Norm Cohn’s excellent starting place for understanding when, how, and why apocalypses appear in the West is “Cosmos, Chaos, and the World to Come” Yale Univ. Press.

    bipolar2

  • 5. Larry  |  February 15, 2009 at 6:39 pm

    Israel to become a nation one day—and when these people turn to the Messiah they once rejected it is a true sign the end is very near

    What would an enemy do if he knew that Prophecy states the Jews must become a nation and turn back to their Messiah before the end can come?

    Easy—-eliminate those people from the earth.

    1939-1945 attempt made to eliminate those people from the earth.

    1948–Just three years later, these same people through an utter miracle become a nation again. Think about it—-6 million of them were murdered, yet three years later they have their own country.

    Say what you will about “prophecy”–Israel not only shows there is a God—-it shows he means what he says.

  • 6. Josh  |  February 15, 2009 at 8:08 pm

    “1948–Just three years later, these same people through an utter miracle become a nation again. Think about it—-6 million of them were murdered, yet three years later they have their own country.”

    I hardly would call this a miracle at all. History has shown repeatedly that it is often the downtrodden who eventually get the boost in their reputation. Normally this follows a period of extreme hardship. It just so happens that every Bible believer watches the state of the Jewish people like a hawk. Could it not be that Christianity is wrong and the Jewish Religion is right? Maybe God is fulfilling their prophecies by establishing Israel?

    I’m curious. Would you call it an utter miracle how Lincoln emancipated the slaves? Or is it only a miracle when it fits a portion of a prophecy you wish to happen? Remember that the slaves identified themselves as a people in slavery similar to the Hebrews in Moses’ day. Just because there is a connection does not mean the connection is significant – or fulfilled prophecy.

    Perhaps I am wrong, and if so, please enlighten me.

  • 7. Josh  |  February 15, 2009 at 8:10 pm

    “Yet nobody’s interested in what the Greeks themselves have to say on this matter.”

    Agreed, and no one was less interested than the Apostle Paul himself.

  • 8. paleale  |  February 15, 2009 at 9:31 pm

    Nope, you guys are wrong. That whole Israel thing, definitely a miracle. It’s quite obvious that God masterminded the whole operation, from hardening the hearts of the Germans to initiate the nearly-successful genocidal attempt which He used to get them to repent of their wickedness (but genocidal only in appearance since it was really God just trying to get their attention and not really wipe them out), to the blessing of world power which he bestowed on the good ole’ USofA that He used to liberate from the evil Christi– er GODLESS Nazis (whose hearts He had hardened), to the mind control that he used on the British imperialists who had controlled Mandatory Palestine but later with the United Nations decided to split it up and give half to the Palestinians and half to the Jews but they got in a war pretty quick like (which God also orchestrated because He was still in the mood to kick some Mohammedan ass) so FINALLY all the Jews could have their nation. In accordance with the prophecy. Nevermind the 700,000 or so displaced Arabs/Palestinians since obviously it was part of the plan to make their lives hell for the next 60 years and counting. I mean, that’s what they get for messing with Jesus! I mean the God of Abraham! Er… the uh… CORRECT ITERATION of the God of Abraham that coincides with the one that the American (and I guess the British and a few French) Christians have so that they could be used by God to set His people free!

  • 9. Josh  |  February 15, 2009 at 10:00 pm

    paleale –

    rofl. So true, you have convinced me!

  • 10. Jeffrey  |  February 15, 2009 at 11:47 pm

    You might be a fundamentalist if you believe the Jews are God’s chosen people who He’s constantly looking out for, constantly helping along, and sending to hell.

  • 11. paleale  |  February 16, 2009 at 1:20 am

    I just watched a debate between Christopher Hitchens and Frank Turek on Vimeo and was reminded of Larry’s post above (5). I have to wonder about the obsession that monotheistic religions share, that I myself once shared, with the end of the world and trying to hasten its arrival. Vengeance and vendetta and the culling out of the faithless from the faithful in a glorious bloodbath– Why? Why must these religions that claim such moral superiority be so obsessed with the death of the world? So obsessed that they would destroy cities and repress nations and murder and enslave? And we… WE are the ones whom they challenge to present our grounds for morality!

  • 12. Luke  |  February 16, 2009 at 9:38 pm

    to make my own rabbit trail on this group of essays.. it really shows the limitations of the written word. it makes me reflect and think that maybe, just maybe, humanity’s greatest sin is to look for some sure and unassailable truth. craving for certainity, for an infallible authority will always lead to the “death” of our life with the Living God. a death i’ve heard recounted on this site, time and time again, all of which are patently true as they are sad.

    we make GOD the eternal immutable Truth and in turn make the scriptures immutable, omiscient, omnipotent, eternal and so on… (as reflected in as the author pointed out quite brilliantly: “with blood being so deep it reaches the bridle of a horse even though people do not use horses anymore in battles!”)

    when the bible or the concept of God becomes forever fixed it can neither be contradicted nor disobeyed with impunity. thank God for this site! calling religious into question, asking questions, these are holy things… no matter what your definition of holy is.

    now, of course, i’m gonna let you know where i weigh on the issue of the authority of God and scripture. i didn’t expect to be born… yet here i am. this is a result of massive eons of evolution, physics, chemistry, and not to be outdone, my mom having sex with my dad… ick! but anywho, here i am! somehow i’ve survived thus long… all of this is a gift.

    we unwrap gifts, delight in gifts, live with gifts, and are grateful for gifts… authority seldom prompts gratitude. sometimes we need tools in opening a hard to get at package. scripture does that for me but it’s not the primary tool, it just tells me how others have tried to unwrap their gifts and what they expected to find inside (hense all the blood and weird poetry).. but who the *$&@ would give that as a present?!).

    rant over.. thanks for the space, and greetings from the yellow sub :-)

  • 13. FFFearlesss  |  February 17, 2009 at 2:23 pm

    I have to wonder about the obsession that monotheistic religions share, that I myself once shared, with the end of the world and trying to hasten its arrival.

    I wonder, if only on a subconscious level, whether the people of fundamentalist faith are starting to realize, whether they want to admit it or not, that reality is beating out ridiculous ideas of faith. In their mind, I wonder if they themselves are really starting to lose faith and genuinely NEED God to come back NOW before the whole thing falls apart.

  • 14. orDover  |  February 17, 2009 at 3:14 pm

    I think the point is, though, that monotheistic religions, and especially Christianity, have been just as obsessed with the Apocalypse since their foundations. We have evidence that the first Christians believed that Christ would return during their lifetimes. The Apocalypse, references to the seven scrolls/seven seals, and especially the Last Judgment are favorite themes of Christian art from the Medieval period through the Renaissance.

  • 15. paleale  |  February 17, 2009 at 3:52 pm

    The Apocalypse, references to the seven scrolls/seven seals, and especially the Last Judgment are favorite themes of Christian art from the Medieval period through the Renaissance.

    It’s still one of my favorite themes. It’s just cool! I was in the National Morgue in the Dominican Republic last spring and holy crap there was some crazy imagery in there. Death was looking pretty hip, I must say. I guess my life long fascination with sci-fi/fantasy literature and film edges into religious themes. I remember trying to suppress how cool I thought it was when I was younger with indignation over how death was glorified and what not, never realizing that it was at the heart of my faith.

    As far as fundies and their need for God to come back now goes I can look at my parents. They’re good people. Generous, loving, kind and sincere in their beliefs and applications thereof. But they believe that Jesus is going to return before they die. My Dad is 75. I don’t believe they are scared that it’s falling apart but rather finally falling into place and they are honestly happy that the world is going to blow up because it means that Jesus wins. They just don’t put it into perspective with the billions of lives that will be lost and condemned to hell if they are right. If these fundamentalists really were consistent, they’d be trying to push back the clock so that more and more souls would be saved, rather than wishing that the Jews would blow up the Temple Mount (which probably isn’t the correct location of Solomon’s temple anyway) so that the Anti-Christ could come sit in it and fulfill all the doomsday prophesies .

  • 16. GaryC  |  February 17, 2009 at 9:30 pm

    paleale writes: As far as fundies and their need for God to come back now goes I can look at my parents. They’re good people. Generous, loving, kind and sincere in their beliefs and applications thereof. But they believe that Jesus is going to return before they die. My Dad is 75. I don’t believe they are scared that it’s falling apart but rather finally falling into place and they are honestly happy that the world is going to blow up because it means that Jesus wins.

    At what point, I wonder, does it cease to be useful to make a distinction between “religious belief” and “insanity”?

  • 17. paleale  |  February 17, 2009 at 10:16 pm

    GaryC–

    When they stop being kind to strangers, donating money to useful charities and providing loving support for me and my family then we can talk about insanity. At the moment I’d just say that they’ve been duped. They are members of a rural Bible Belt farm community where church is practically the only social outlet and Fox News is the rule and Sean Hannity is king. Of course, they’re going to be influenced by the world of fundamental Christianity. There’s no in-between in that culture. You’re either in church or your a complete degenerate asshole. Not to say that the church there doesn’t have its assholes, but outside it’s just nasty.

    I realize that I began this trail with my lament over the fundamentalist culture of death. I admit that was pretty riled up when I submitted post 11. And maybe I’m just being inconsistent when it comes to being backed into a corner about thinking poorly of my parents. Yet, the alternative that I’m being forced to consider for the moment is that many fundamentalists are largely ignorant of the implications which their beliefs entail. I know that’s how it is for my parents and they can’t be the only ones. They are happy about having ‘abundant life’ and are generally excited about the life to come. They just want to meet Jesus, much in the same way that I’d love to meet Elvis Costello.

    I can’t believe I’m defending my parents in an internet forum to a complete stranger. I’m actually trying very hard to not take your comment personally.

  • 18. Josh (guitarstrummr)  |  February 17, 2009 at 10:38 pm

    “At what point, I wonder, does it cease to be useful to make a distinction between “religious belief” and “insanity”?”

    I do not believe it is insanity by any means. An insane person is (at least to me) a person whose everyday functions are actually hindered by delusions and these delusions are persistent. For example, if a person believes the authorities are after them because a policeman gives them a casual glance and then invents conspiratorial explanations as to why the police have not caught them yet, or a person who believes they have been abducted by aliens and have a metal implant in their body – and rather than admit they are delusional when shown a blank x-ray, they just change the story and say that maybe the aliens removed it.

    I just think that in a proper sense, we are all “insane” (unable to listen to reason) at some points in our lives. I would hate for it to become a generic label on anyone. Most Christians honestly think I am the insane one for denying the existence of God, which, to them at least, is so obvious that it would take the most blind person in the world to not see that He exists.

    I would have hated – abhorred – to have been considered insane by anyone when I was a Christian. And look where I ended up? If I am rational now, I was also rational before. My reason has not changed. So what changed?

    The thing that changed was the information I had received about the world. That is it.

    So in defense of the entire religious realm, let me say that they are NOT insane. For the majority of them, their presuppositions just hinder them from receiving information that counters their beliefs because they find any contrary information to be harmful – and everyone recoils from harm. So they protect their children from the “harmful” evolution, like a good parent should given that belief. Its not insanity, its parental love.

    If a person believes that their beloved relatives are actually in heaven, and then they receive information that contradicts this, this causes pain. The mind automatically recoils from this information. It is why it takes so long – and is so painful – for anyone to leave faith. And at this point, in my opinion, it has little to do with “reason” or “logic” or “sanity”, it has to do with being a human.

    Gary, I’m not sure whether you were throwing that out there to demonstrate the danger of our pointing out the lack of reason in religion (by a slippery slope argument) or to demonstrate the danger of religion itself upon the mind, but I hope that I’ve made it clear holding to religion is the farthest thing from insanity in my mind at least :)

    But it is an extremely good question, still.

  • 19. GaryC  |  February 17, 2009 at 11:28 pm

    Josh writes: “I do not believe it is insanity by any means. An insane person is (at least to me) a person whose everyday functions are actually hindered by delusions and these delusions are persistent. For example, if a person believes the authorities are after them because a policeman gives them a casual glance and then invents conspiratorial explanations as to why the police have not caught them yet, or a person who believes they have been abducted by aliens and have a metal implant in their body – and rather than admit they are delusional when shown a blank x-ray, they just change the story and say that maybe the aliens removed it.”

    Is the use of the word “insanity” really so far-fetched here, Josh? One of the definitions my desktop dictionary offers for the word is “extreme folly; foolhardiness.” Do you not think that applies in this instance? Or is it sufficient to say that if one is surrounded by others who subscribe to the same extreme folly, it ceases to be folly?

    You used the word “delusional” in referring to a person who thinks that he or she has been abducted by aliens. One of the definitions my desktop dictionary supplies for that word is “a fixed, dominating, or persistent false mental conception resistant to reason.” Is the word completely inappropriate here? Or do you want to say that, if enough other people subscribe to the same delusion, it ceases to be a delusion?

  • 20. GaryC  |  February 17, 2009 at 11:45 pm

    Paleale writes, “I can’t believe I’m defending my parents in an internet forum to a complete stranger. I’m actually trying very hard to not take your comment personally.”

    Since the comment was not about you, there is no reason for you to take it personally. It was a comment that was prompted by the fact that I find people who “are honestly happy that the world is about to blow up,” as you say your parents are, to be a little frightening. It seems to me that it is but a step from “being happy that the world is about to blow up” to working actively to make sure that the world blows up on schedule, in order that the prophecies be fulfilled — even if that entails “just” supporting certain political policies because they might tend toward such an end.

    Recently my wife had to listen for an hour to a colleague at work inform her with the greatest earnestness that he had worked it all out through careful analysis of Scripture, and he is pretty certain that the Rapture is a-comin’ this September. The encounter left her somewhat rattled….

  • 21. TitforTat  |  February 18, 2009 at 12:36 am

    So in defense of the entire religious realm, let me say that they are NOT insane. (Josh)

    The problem is, for the ones that are insane, they use their religion to justify their nutty behaviour.

    Calvin is a great example of that.

  • 22. Josh (guitarstrummr)  |  February 18, 2009 at 12:51 am

    Gary –

    I do appreciate the fear that these beliefs can bring someone, but most believers thankfully do not take their beliefs that seriously. One advantage of Christianity is that the way to usher in the end times is via peaceable means: spreading the gospel throughout the world. There are the few who find theological reasons to cause harm, but for the most part Christians are congenial.

    My point in this post was to highlight that the attitude expressed within Scriptures is not nearly as tame as Christians today are. Few Christians today hand blasphemers over to Satan (like Paul did) or declare that someone did because they took of the sacrament in an unworthy manner (like Paul did).

    That said, believers are not insane, just misguided. There is a massive difference. Many of us were believers for 20+ years, but I can speak for myself and say that it was not insanity: it was misguidance, a lack of a serious education, and a faith which hindered my ability to look the world in the eye. With a little learning, a little guidance, smart people who respected me even though they disagreed – and I came around :)

    By declaring people insane, they are made the fault itself. By declaring people misguided, you make the ideas at fault. The latter is far more pro-active in my opinion. This is one reason Christianity spreads so well: it assumes a respectful attitude toward those who do not believe.

  • 23. paleale  |  February 18, 2009 at 12:54 am

    C’mon Gary. We should all know by now that it’s all gonna go down in December of 2012.

    Seriously, though. I believe your application of the desktop dictionary definition is a bit extreme and inflammatory. If you’re going to use such a wide-angle lens on people in this case then you’ll have to apply it to practically anyone who grew up in the age of thinking the world was flat. Or that leeches cure tuberculosis. This is a cultural phenomenon that is born out of ignorance, superstion and centuries of dogma. That doesn’t make it right– but it doesn’t make them insane. Insanity and delusion are psychotic mental disorders, not fundamental religion writ large.

    Now given that, I do believe that there are fundamental sects who display symptoms of what you consider to be insanity–Westboro Baptist Church for instance. Obviously, there are some mental issues there. It sounds like your wife’s co-worker probably has some neurotic tendencies, maybe even a bit OCD. Those are the folks you have to watch out for. When you combine actual psychoses with fundamental religion, then you get David Berkowitz and Andrea Yates. Not my Mom and Dad.

  • 24. Josh (guitarstrummr)  |  February 18, 2009 at 12:56 am

    * “someone did” should be “someone died”

  • 25. paleale  |  February 18, 2009 at 1:06 am

    And Josh

    Your post was as gracious and eloquent as always. I commend thee.

  • 26. Josh (guitarstrummr)  |  February 18, 2009 at 1:10 am

    “The problem is, for the ones that are insane, they use their religion to justify their nutty behaviour.

    Calvin is a great example of that.”

    Well, true, but my guess is that if it were not religion it would not matter, their behavior would probably still be nutty :)

    And I’m not sure Calvin was performing nutty behavior at all. He was simply acting in accordance with his beliefs, which happened to be founded on false information. That is not insanity, it is misguidance in my opinion. There seems to be a difference to me.

    Religious people (well, Christians at least) don’t scare me much because they honestly make a lot of sense to me. Am I alone here?

    My point of this post was simply to point out the contradiction I see between the attitude in Scripture and the attitude I see among many believers. Its a compliment to modern Christianity on the one hand and a subtle reprimand on the other.

    I echo Dan Barker who once told his then-believing mom: “Well, your nicer than God then!”

  • 27. Josh (guitarstrummr)  |  February 18, 2009 at 1:17 am

    Thanks paleale :)

    And Gary, you are welcome here and your question is definitely an excellent one. Does it make sense the distinction I make between “misguidance” and “insanity”? They can look the same to an outside observer in my opinion.

  • 28. SnugglyBuffalo  |  February 18, 2009 at 3:52 am

    OK, I think Gary is using an improper definition of insanity. Calling someone’s ideas insanity is rather different from calling the person insane. To call a person insane is to call them deranged or of an unsound mind to the point that it hinders your ability to be a member of society. To call their ideas insane is to simply call them folly or foolhardy. Insane is a rather loaded word, so it’s not really possible to call someone insane and convey this latter meaning. The two uses of the term are not equivalent, no matter how you try to argue semantics.

    If you want to say Christians who are expecting the apocalypse are foolhardy, than call them foolhardy – calling them insane is not a good way to start any kind of reasonable discourse and is frankly a rather poorly disguised attempt to get people involved emotionally instead of rationally.

  • 29. GaryC  |  February 18, 2009 at 8:09 am

    Jopsh writes: And Gary, you are welcome here and your question is definitely an excellent one. Does it make sense the distinction I make between “misguidance” and “insanity”? They can look the same to an outside observer in my opinion.”

    And I think would certainly qualify as an outside observer, Josh.

    The distinction you raise is certainly a valid one, but recall my original question: AT WHAT POINT does it cease to be useful to make this kind of a distinction, between “religious belief” and “insanity”, or between “misguidance” and “insanity”?

    You mentioned “alien abductees.” Now that there are enough of them to form their own support groups, are they, possibly, making the transition from “insane” to “misguided”?

  • 30. TitforTat  |  February 18, 2009 at 8:32 am

    To call a person insane is to call them deranged or of an unsound mind to the point that it hinders your ability to be a member of society.(snuggly)

    John Calvin had Michael Servetus burned at the stake. Now maybe at that time he was a sound member of his community, but I think that is pretty well, you know, Nuts.

  • 31. GaryC  |  February 18, 2009 at 8:38 am

    Paleale writes, “Seriously, though. I believe your application of the desktop dictionary definition is a bit extreme and inflammatory.”

    Well, I am just trying to “speak English as she is spoke.” Are you saying that my dictionary’s definition is not a proper definition of the word “insanity”? It seems to me that it is.

    Paleale continues: “If you’re going to use such a wide-angle lens on people in this case then you’ll have to apply it to practically anyone who grew up in the age of thinking the world was flat. Or that leeches cure tuberculosis. This is a cultural phenomenon that is born out of ignorance, superstion and centuries of dogma. That doesn’t make it right– but it doesn’t make them insane. Insanity and delusion are psychotic mental disorders, not fundamental religion writ large.”

    I do not deny that it is a cultural phenomenon. But while, at one time, almost everyone believed that the world was flat, and we wouldn’t want to say that they were insane for believing it then, would you insist that it is improper to apply the word to describe someone who believes it now? I would argue that fundamental religion is so at variance with a contemporary understanding of reality that the use of the word “insanity” is not out of place. Of course I do not mean to imply that we are talking about the clinical mental disorders of individuals (though that may be true in some cases — I wonder how many religious movements were startd by schizophrenics who managed to convince other people that the voices inside their heads were indeed the voices of the gods?), but about MASS insanity or MASS delusion. Is believing that the world is flat not insane — by a perfectly correct definition of the word “insane” — if you can get enought like-minded people to form a Flat Earth Society?

    Josh prefers “misguided” to “insane.” The de-converted fundamentalist-turned-atheist John Loftus uses instead the term “deluded.” Is there much of a difference, really,between “deluded” and “delusional”?

  • 32. Josh (guitarstrummr)  |  February 18, 2009 at 10:14 am

    Gary C –

    I think I could live with the term “deluded”. The thing I wish to avoid is putting the “fault”, so to speak, on the believer. In reality – having experienced the “delusion” that is Christianity – that is pretty far from the truth. I would argue that most believers, though unaware of their “delusion”, are quite capable with time and patience of beginning to see through their misconceptions.

    One could argue that the person becomes insane when they will not even listen to the reasonable advice of their friends. Perhaps? At that point, the person is not only considered insane by those without the faith, they are considered insane by those within the faith. Normally insanity is something recognized by even those who hold the same beliefs! Jim Jones was recognized by those within his own cult as being somewhat insane.

  • 33. paleale  |  February 18, 2009 at 12:13 pm

    Gary

    The distinction you raise is certainly a valid one, but recall my original question: AT WHAT POINT does it cease to be useful to make this kind of a distinction, between “religious belief” and “insanity”, or between “misguidance” and “insanity”?

    Let’s say it’s no longer useful. What then? Do you label all who follow any supernatural belief as insane? Do you start petitioning that fundamentalists be committed? Or mandate a cultural detoxification program of some sort? Legislate belief?

    The next step is what determines the point at which it stops being useful to distinguish between the two.

  • 34. SnugglyBuffalo  |  February 18, 2009 at 12:16 pm

    Of course I do not mean to imply that we are talking about the clinical mental disorders of individuals

    That may not be what you mean to imply, but it’s what you imply nonetheless. There is simply no way to call a person insane without implying the above. As I said, it’s a fairly loaded word, especially when applied to people. If you’re going to talk about the craziness of someone’s beliefs, labeling them insane while speaking with someone else who’s emotionally invested in that person is not the best way to start.

  • 35. Yurka  |  February 18, 2009 at 2:16 pm

    Eschatology is an adiaphora issue. There is no place in the Bible you can point to where believing in a specific timeline of a specific chain of events is necessary for your salvation. So stop lying to yourselves that a few wacky ‘left behind’ types somehow disprove Christianity since they’ve a) gotten it wrong in the past, b) contradict each other c) emphasize eschatology to the exclusion of more important doctrines that are actually emphasized in scripture.

  • 36. Yurka  |  February 18, 2009 at 2:18 pm

    Hope this helps! I’m only trying to bring to the surface your (admittedly unspoken) self deceptive rationalizations. I only mean to comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable.

  • 37. Yurka  |  February 18, 2009 at 2:28 pm

    I know I know! Pointing out the erroneous views concerning eschatology in a post about eschatology means I’m smoking weed and free associating. I’d like to call that a non-sequitur, but I’m not allowed to use logical terms. I must accept by faith the decon ipse dixit that I cannot use logic. Anyone else here feel bullied by an *attitude* rather than compelled by actual *argumentation*?

  • 38. SnugglyBuffalo  |  February 18, 2009 at 2:37 pm

    Yurka, perhaps you forgot about parts 1 and 2? This isn’t making the argument that eschatology is confusing and so we should throw out Christianity. It’s the third part in a series making the point that the entirety of Christianity is confusing.

    You’re not bringing to the surface our self-deceptive rationalizations; you’re making an ass of yourself by attacking non-existent arguments. You’ve been doing that a lot of late…

  • 39. Josh (guitarstrummr)  |  February 18, 2009 at 3:13 pm

    Yurka, pointing out that someone is lying to themselves is a self-contradiction. Can’t you see this?

    If a person is lying to themselves, then it means that the person actually does know the truth, right? But if the person lying to themselves actually does know the truth, then how can they lie to themselves? This would imply one part of the person that knows its true and another part that is lying to another part of the person about that truth. And if the person has been lied to, then how can you fault them?

    It just doesn’t make any sense. Lying to oneself is impossible. A person who lies to themself actually does know the truth, or else how could they lie? So you are insinuating that we actually do know the truth and are suppressing it, right? But if we actually do know the truth, then we cannot be lying to ourselves, we are only lying to others, right?

    And if we are lying to others, how come you repeatedly fail to point out – other than making damning assertions that we are wrong – how it is that we are lying?

    A lie requires false presentation of the facts. If you make an accusation of lying, you must provide the correct facts – and how you know they are correct – in order to back up your accusation. Otherwise you are assuming guilty until proven innocent – not a very just way to act.

    I think that this little accusation you keep making is just to protect yourself so you do not have to present contrary evidence. You insinuate that we are lying to ourselves. Then when we ask for evidence, you do not have to provide it under the guise that because we are lying to ourselves we already secretly know the truth and you do not have to say anything. Its a clever trick to protect yourself, but it won’t get you anywhere here, Yurka.

    Demonstrate in these three posts with ample, backed-up data how our view of Christianity is wrong. Until you do, I think I am forced to declare that you are a coward who refuses to back up your position and justifies this by making ad hominem unjustifiable moral accusations against those who disagree with you. I’m calling you out, Yurka.

    But you know what you’ll say? You’ll say “You already know the truth, you are just suppressing it.” Once again, a completely unfounded moral accusation designed to protect yourself from having to lay out your position in full.

    In detail, lay out the truth we are suppressing and in what way we are twisting that truth. In order to do so, you must provide evidence demonstrating your position and where it is that we are lying. Until then, I sadly accuse you of being a judgmental individual who hides behind your supposed moral superiority so that you do not have to demonstrate the truthfulness of your assertions.

  • 40. LeoPardus  |  February 18, 2009 at 3:46 pm

    Gotta disagree with you Josh. A person most assuredly can lie to themselves.

    Someone may want to believe something enough that he eventually come to actually believe it even though it’s not true. Think of someone who is a major asshole who keeps telling himself that he’s really a fine fellow. Eventually they become so wrapped up in their lie that they lose the thread of the truth.

    Someone may also be so desperate to believe something that they will push the truth off any time it impinges on them. In this case they do know they are lying, but they push it away and insist on a known, but comfortable, lie. Any of the leaders of the ‘young earth creationist’ movement would fit this category. (Though some may be in the first category after long abuse of their minds.)

    Then there are pathological liars. Such persons often lose the ability to discern truth and error entirely.

  • 41. Josh (guitarstrummr)  |  February 18, 2009 at 4:28 pm

    LeoPardus –

    So then it has to do with comfort? People choose to believe facts that make them most comfortable at the moment? They only accept other facts when the discomfort of rejecting the truth is outweighed by the discomfort of accepting it?

  • 42. Josh (guitarstrummr)  |  February 18, 2009 at 4:42 pm

    I guess that the “your lying to yourself” accusation feels a lot to me like the old “as soon as you think your humble your not” type of adages I would hear in church.

    But I do think I have some shred of a point. Telling someone “your lying to yourself” only is valid if one has good evidence to the contrary, otherwise it just feels like an empty accusation. Saying “your an asshole” is not as effective as saying “your an asshole, look what you’ve done here and here and here and here”. I guess I just was hoping for some “Your lying to yourself, here is good evidence supporting the accusation”. Like the patient who refuses to believe they have cancer. Its not enough for the doctor to say “Well, your just lying to yourself” and then walking off. The doctor needs to provide an x-ray or something.

  • 43. Josh (guitarstrummr)  |  February 18, 2009 at 4:47 pm

    “John Calvin had Michael Servetus burned at the stake. Now maybe at that time he was a sound member of his community, but I think that is pretty well, you know, Nuts.”

    Well, you do have a good point here… I often wondered why he was raised as a hero of sorts among some of the more conservative communities.

  • 44. LeoPardus  |  February 18, 2009 at 4:48 pm

    So then it has to do with comfort? People choose to believe facts that make them most comfortable at the moment? They only accept other facts when the discomfort of rejecting the truth is outweighed by the discomfort of accepting it?

    To answer your questions in order: yes; yes; yes. ‘Tis a sad commentary on humans but alas too often a true one.

    Remember the discomfort we all felt when we began to suspect the faith was a lie? Remember how almost all of us sought something to show us it was still true? A lot of people will grab hold of something and say, “This is it. This says the faith is true.” even if that something does nothing of the sort. They just want it so badly that they give up on the real truth and settle into what’s comfortable.

  • 45. Josh (guitarstrummr)  |  February 18, 2009 at 5:11 pm

    Yes, I do remember the discomfort, although that remembrance is slowly fading and being replaced by incredulity that I ever believed in the first place. It is this feeling that to some extent inspired these posts.

    It does make me wonder, though, whether I am inconsiderate in these last three posts. While I found the posts amusing to write, I sometimes wonder if I’m losing the ability to genuinely empathize with those in the faith. Last year I often wondered why some of those who de-convert reach a point where they seem to no longer care and find the entire Christian story ridiculous. At that point I at least understood what it felt like to be a Christian and was still recovering from all the emotions associated with it, but I am finding it harder and harder to genuinely empathize and finding it easier and easier to just shoot holes in the faith. I’m not sure this is an attitude I want to have, but perhaps it is just a part of leaving the faith behind once and for all?

  • 46. Josh (guitarstrummr)  |  February 18, 2009 at 5:13 pm

    And thanks for answering my questions, LeoPardus :)

  • 47. SnugglyBuffalo  |  February 18, 2009 at 5:28 pm

    Regarding self-deception, I recall an article that suggested a little self-deception might actually be integral to leading a normal life; that some cases of depression are really just people having a more accurate outlook on life, while most ‘normal’ people tend to have more optimistic outlooks than their situation really warrants.

    The human mind is a fascinating thing.

  • 48. Luke  |  February 18, 2009 at 5:28 pm

    “I’m not sure this is an attitude I want to have, but perhaps it is just a part of leaving the faith behind once and for all?” Josh

    it’s definately a part of it. but don’t let it evolve into hatred. keep trying to understand because there is no monolithic Christian identity despite what fundies will tell you. keep in the discussion, do not get angry… holding on to anger is like grasping a hot coal with the intent of throwing it at someone else; you are the one who gets burned.

    like you said, some Christians are able to use the theology like a good philosophy to order their lives… and then there are the rest.

  • 49. Josh (guitarstrummr)  |  February 18, 2009 at 5:36 pm

    “but don’t let it evolve into hatred.”

    No, I don’t think it could become that. For a while I think it bordered that, but not anymore. Its hard to hate individuals when once you realize why they act the way they do. It is easier to hate the ideas, I suppose.

    “while most ‘normal’ people tend to have more optimistic outlooks than their situation really warrants.”

    Lol. Well put :)

  • 50. LeoPardus  |  February 18, 2009 at 6:19 pm

    Re post #45:

    I really identify with all you said Josh. I’m a bit incredulous that I ever could fool myself for so long. It’s just so clear now, how did I miss it?
    And like you I find it harder to understand and empathize. I’ve noticed that some do degrade into hatred for the old faith. I think being aware that it is a danger will help you not to spiral down that way. I know for dang sure that I do NOT want to go there.

  • 51. Josh (guitarstrummr)  |  February 18, 2009 at 6:36 pm

    “I know for dang sure that I do NOT want to go there.”

    Neither do I, as most of my friends / family are still devout. Perhaps there is a part of me that is jealous, though, of the way the faith keeps me from enjoying solid friendships with some of my believer friends and family. This does make me frustrated at times. As well as knowing my lovely little sister is going to grow up believing and scared that I am going to hell. This does indeed make me mad at the “faith”.

    I do not want to hate it, but appreciate it for the good and beauty it can bring. Its hard to see that, though, when I took it so seriously for so long and now feel I wasted a large portion of those years resisting really enjoying life by doing what I wanted to do and instead submitting to the meme.

  • 52. Luke  |  February 19, 2009 at 12:32 am

    “Perhaps there is a part of me that is jealous, though, of the way the faith keeps me from enjoying solid friendships with some of my believer friends and family. ”

    i hear and feel ya here. even in a family of ‘believers’ there can be rifts like “so and so not Catholic” or “why don’t you drop the mormon thing and come be with the rest of your Pentacostal family?” or even “Spaghetti God? what the crap? Don’t you know that god is a pterodactyl with a unicorn horn?!”

    i’m always amazed at religion’s power to divide. yet if it isn’t religion, it’s politics, sports teams, fav. authors or bands, or whatever we feel like we can fight about. what the crap?

    thanks for share’n the struggle.. it’s one i share but in different terms.. namely, how can my fellow Christians, ones who are supposed to be loving their neighbors, be spreading so much hate and discord?! i’m glad to hear that y’all don’t want to hit a spiral, so thanks for share’n.

    RAWK!

  • 53. Luke  |  February 19, 2009 at 12:37 am

    Whether one believes in a religion or not,
    and whether one believes in rebirth or not,
    there isn’t anyone who doesn’t appreciate kindness and compassion.

    -Dalai Lama

  • 54. Kat  |  February 19, 2009 at 4:02 am

    Anyone care for a Sinfest comic? :)

    http://www.sinfest.net/archive_page.php?comicID=2208

  • 55. Yurka  |  February 19, 2009 at 11:57 am

    Josh #39 this is a very complicated issue. Greg Bahnsen did his doctoral dissertation on this: http://www.cmfnow.com/articles/PA207.htm

    I don’t understand it all but I think it seems to be the case, as Francis Schaeffer points out in the God who is there that people shuttle back and forth between contradictory worldviews.

  • 56. Yurka  |  February 19, 2009 at 12:09 pm

    SnugglyBuffalo #38
    You’re not bringing to the surface our self-deceptive rationalizations; you’re making an ass of yourself by attacking non-existent arguments. You’ve been doing that a lot of late…

    I’m attacking arguments that have not been *EXPLICITLY* stated, but the kinds of phrases that are thrown out imply a worldview accepted *BEFOREHAND* without any justification. Such as “He did this to conquer one of mankind’s greatest personified enemies: death.”
    This atheist parody implies “humans are just animals. The only animals that would have evolved are those that fear/resist death. Therefore the fear of death is not the result of rationality, but just a byproduct of the fact that we happen to be here.”

    But I find this to be circular. Death might really be evil and unnatural, and it is wrong to presuppose we are chimpanzees that evolved to hate death and therefore we constructed myths against it. We may have received revelation confirming our intuitions that it is evil AND deserved AND will be destroyed eventually.

  • 57. LeoPardus  |  February 19, 2009 at 12:30 pm

    Shit. Presuppositionalism AGAIN! Yurka, if you think that sort of stuff is logical, rational, or even represent using the human brain, it’s no wonder that you can’t make much sense and so often utterly fail to even understand what is being said to you.

    Presuppositionalism is circular logic (or circular illogic to be more precise). It’s BAD thinking and BAD theology. Ultimately what it really is is brain abuse. If you indulge in it, you will harm your rational faculties. You won’t be able to properly use the brain you have.
    It’s the same as if you tied a tourniquet around your arm. Over time, the arm would grow weak and clumsy and insensate. It would not function as it ought. The only way to fix the arm would be to remove the tourniquet, restore proper blood flow, and start rehabilitating the arm.
    Presuppositionalism does the same thing to your brain. The brain becomes weak and clumsy, it can’t register or understand basic logic. The only cure is to STOP abusing it and start using proper thinking. In other words rehabilitate it.

    You will never understand what we say or what’s going on in the world around you until and unless you STOP forcing your mind to do double think.

    I doubt this will get through, but at least I’m giving it a shot.

  • 58. LeoPardus  |  February 19, 2009 at 12:34 pm

    Amusing comments from the link in post #55:

    That self-deception which is practiced by all unregenerate men according to the Apostle Paul’s incisive description in Romans 1:18 is at once religiously momentous and yet philosophically enigmatic. It is also one of the focal points in continuing criticism of Cornelius Van Til’s apologetic and, as such, invites analysis with a view to supplementing and strengthening the saintly professor’s remarkable contribution to the history of apologetics.

    Van Til = saintly :) and has made “remarkable contribution to the history of apologetics.” ;)

    And the big “take us home” conclusion:
    All men know and hence believe that God exists. The revelational evidence is so plain that nobody can avoid holding the conviction that God exists, even though they may never explicitly assent to this belief. We are justified in ascribing such a belief to men on the basis of their observed behavior in reasoning (e.g., relying on the uniformity of nature), in morals (e.g., holding to ethical absolutes in some fashion), and in emotion (e.g., fearing death). Nevertheless, all men are motivated in unrighteousness and by fear of judgment to ignore, hide, and disavow any belief in the living and true God (either through atheism or false religiosity). By misconstruing and rationalizing the relevant, inescapable evidence around them (“suppressing it”), men bring themselves to believe about themselves that they do not believe in God, even though that second-order belief is false. Sinners can purposely engage in this kind of activity, for they also deceive themselves about their motivation in handling the evidence as they do and about their real intentions, which are not noble or rational at all. Thereby they “go to sleep” (as it were), forgetting their God. Because the evidence is clear, and because the suppression of the truth is intentional, we can properly conclude that all men are “without excuse” and bear full responsibility for their sins of mind, speech, and conduct.
    :D :D :D

  • 59. Yurka  |  February 19, 2009 at 12:39 pm

    LP #57 Why is presuppositionalism circular? Why do you think you can trust your rational intuitions if presuppositionalism is not true though? I liked to think C.S. Lewis “invented” presuppositionalism with chapter 3 of Miracles, but then I learned DARWIN of all people invented it – “if my brain is just a MONKEY’S brain, why should I trust my thoughts to be rational?”

    Van Til is wrong about a lot of what he says, but he is right that we are *ALL* non neutral – we can’t escape it. I still do not understand why he tried to defrock Gordon Clark – I think it was completely wrong, but I must agree with him when he was right.
    He was also, I believe heretical when it came to the trinity – embracing logical contradictions.

  • 60. Luke  |  February 19, 2009 at 12:53 pm

    “Death might really be evil and unnatural, and it is wrong to presuppose we are chimpanzees that evolved to hate death and therefore we constructed myths against it.” -Yurka

    but death is natural and we are animals. now what? gotta take Genesis as a story.. .there was no garden, no perfect “before hand”, we are as intended with all of what the brings. for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. this is how the world works.

  • 61. SnugglyBuffalo  |  February 19, 2009 at 1:05 pm

    I’m attacking arguments that have not been *EXPLICITLY* stated. . .

    You’re not even attacking implicit arguments. You’re just making shit up:

    This atheist parody implies “humans are just animals. The only animals that would have evolved are those that fear/resist death. Therefore the fear of death is not the result of rationality, but just a byproduct of the fact that we happen to be here.”

    WTF? Where the hell do you get that implication from? I’ve never seen such an argument, stated explicitly or implicitly.

    You can’t even make good strawman arguments anymore…

  • 62. Josh (guitarstrummr)  |  February 19, 2009 at 2:36 pm

    “Why is presuppositionalism circular”

    Because you presuppose the conclusion you are trying to reach.

    We are simply questioning the conclusion.

    If you presuppose that we believe in God and are just lying about it, then use all the evidence to make it fit that presupposition, and then use that evidence to demonstrate that we are lying to ourselves, then you are using circular logic. Your conclusion is your presupposition. This is circular.

  • 63. Josh (guitarstrummr)  |  February 19, 2009 at 2:48 pm

    Ultimately I think the reason that you are frustrating people, Yurka, is not because you are an asshole or anything like that, but just because we are trying to get you to question those presuppositions and you refuse. By assuming from the start that these presuppositions are accurate (without questioning them):

    * God exists
    * Every man believes God exists
    * Van til is a good source for apologetics
    * The Bible is the Word of God
    * The Bible is accurate
    * There is no such thing as an atheist, because all men do believe in God (and no less, the God you believe in)

    It creates a rift in any conversation. By starting the conversation insinuating that your listeners are liars, is it no wonder we would get upset?

    Consider this: if we are not lying when we say we do not believe in God, then we are upset because you are making a false accusation. If you are making a false accusation (based upon your presuppositions about what every man really believes) then why should we listen to you when you talk about, well, anything?

    How do you know that we are lying to ourselves and really do secretly believe in God? You probably appeal to the Bible. How do you know the books of the Bible are trustworthy? You probably appeal to apologetics. And that is the area which most of us have studied extensively and I – for one – do not mind discussing these things in a reasonable manner. I think my three posts have demonstrated that I do know the subject matter quite extensively and am willing to make some “real” arguments. I apologize if the sarcasm in this post makes it look like we are avoiding the seriousness of the issues involved. I don’t think this is true. Its just that I, for one, have dealt with the seriousness of the issues so deeply that I’m getting tired of it.

  • 64. orDover  |  February 19, 2009 at 3:11 pm

    My husband believes in inverse presuppositionalism. He thinks that most people know deep down that there is no God because the concept is just too silly and the evidence too strongly against it, but they convince themselves to believe anyway. He says that people believe in having faith, but don’t really believe in God. As evidence he sites the fact that all Christians believe God is aware of all of their thoughts and actions, and yet no Christian acts as if God is standing in the room with them. If your mom was standing in a room with you, would you be able to look at pornography or do anything else considered “bad”? Of course not. If you mom is in the room you are on your best behavior. If Christians really believed in an omniscient, omnipotent God they would ALWAYS be on the best behavior.

    So there you have it. presuppositionalism thrown back in your face. You don’t actually believe in God and are deceiving yourself into thinking that you do.

  • 65. LeoPardus  |  February 19, 2009 at 3:23 pm

    Yurka:

    Why is presuppositionalism circular

    The fact that you don’t already know the answer to this shows that you don’t know even basic logic and it shows the damage already done to your rational processes. But to answer the question directly, I repeat Josh’s simple reply,
    “Because you presuppose the conclusion you are trying to reach.”

    Here’s a simple example of presuppositional (i.e., circular) logic in action:
    -Donuts are yucky.
    -But you’ve never tried one. How do you know?
    -Because donuts are yucky.
    -You don’t know that. Here try a nice, glazed one.
    -No. Donuts are yucky.
    -But how to you know?
    -I know because donuts are yucky. Everyone knows that. You know it too, but you’re denying it. You should stop eating yucky donuts.
    -They aren’t yucky. They’re yummy. I like them.
    -No. Donuts are yucky.

    As you can see, the presupposition that “donuts are yucky” precludes any possibility of conversation, experimentation, reconsideration, change, interchange, coffee-n-donut breaks, and so on.

  • 66. LeoPardus  |  February 19, 2009 at 3:24 pm

    orDover:

    Re post #64- I’d stand and applaud, but my workmates would be disturbed.

    Top notch.

  • 67. LeoPardus  |  February 19, 2009 at 3:31 pm

    I liked to think C.S. Lewis “invented” presuppositionalism with chapter 3 of Miracles, but then I learned DARWIN of all people invented it

    It’s been around since the dawn of man.

    “if my brain is just a MONKEY’S brain..”

    Once again displaying the breadth of your ignorance.

  • 68. Josh (guitarstrummr)  |  February 19, 2009 at 8:52 pm

    Yeah ,orDover, wonderful post. I can remember all the times people in church would murmer about how much better their behavior would be if only they *really* believed or if they could just focus more on Christ all the time and not get caught up in daily activities.

  • 69. Luke  |  February 20, 2009 at 10:29 am

    LeoP, poast #65 is pure brilliance!

  • 70. Yurka  |  February 20, 2009 at 12:10 pm

    No it isn’t. What flaw do you detect in Darwin’s argument? If you trust that your minds produce rational thoughts, you ARE borrowing from the Christian world view. As evolutionists, you will hopefully be honest enough to admit that evolution would select for *survival* promoting beliefs, but not necessarily *true* beliefs. Why is it circular to want to build your house of reason on rock instead of shifting sands?

  • 71. Yurka  |  February 20, 2009 at 12:16 pm

    #64 you’ve proved that there are hypocrites in the church. But this fact is declared in the new testament over and over again (James 2, Gal 1, etc. etc.).
    So you’re trying to use an observation made by Christianity to disprove Christianity? I don’t get it. It’s like using the existence of witch doctors to disprove the efficacy of medicine. It doesn’t make any sense. Will you please clarify?

  • 72. SnugglyBuffalo  |  February 20, 2009 at 12:35 pm

    If you trust that your minds produce rational thoughts, you ARE borrowing from the Christian world view.

    There’s a problem with your premise there. Our minds clearly produce myriad irrational thoughts; if God created our minds, he did a pretty piss-poor job of it. I would argue that evolution in fact did select for survival-promoting beliefs, and not necessarily true ones. That’s why we’ve had to construct a set of rules for looking at the world rationally, because it doesn’t come naturally.

    Sure, maybe we’ve set up those rules completely wrong, since we aren’t perfect rational beings; and maybe we’re all just brains in jars and none of this is real. Neither position is really worth considering in depth.

  • 73. orDover  |  February 20, 2009 at 1:02 pm

    #64 you’ve proved that there are hypocrites in the church. But this fact is declared in the new testament over and over again (James 2, Gal 1, etc. etc.).
    So you’re trying to use an observation made by Christianity to disprove Christianity?

    I’m not saying what the Bible says. I’m not saying there are hypocrites (people who claim to be moral but act otherwise), but that the people who the Church/Bible might call hypocrites actually do not believe in God at all. And even those who don’t appear to be hypocritical, who look like good upright Christians to our modern standards also do not believe in God. I’m saying that every Christian who doesn’t display the same level of piety as Martin Luther doesn’t believe in God.

    And even if Christianity did make this same point, it wouldn’t invalidate what I have said. The Bible covers its ass in every imaginable way. So do other charlatans. For example, psychics. When psychics warn that not all of their predictions will be true, does that excuse their flagrant errors? Does their ability to predict their own shortcomings make them all the more psychic? No. Wrong is wrong. The Bible’s ability to predict the shortcomings of its followers doesn’t make it more holy, it just shows that the authors had a bit of foresight.

  • 74. Josh (guitarstrummr)  |  February 20, 2009 at 1:17 pm

    “The Bible’s ability to predict the shortcomings of its followers doesn’t make it more holy, it just shows that the authors had a bit of foresight.”

    Or they were covering their own butts. 2 Corinthians is basically a book of Paul defending his apostleship. Paul did that a lot.

  • 75. orDover  |  February 20, 2009 at 1:23 pm

    If you trust that your minds produce rational thoughts, you ARE borrowing from the Christian world view. As evolutionists, you will hopefully be honest enough to admit that evolution would select for *survival* promoting beliefs, but not necessarily *true* beliefs.

    So do you think that believing in a fantasy world constructed by your own brain would promote survival, or that being able to observe and negotiate the REAL world would promote survival? Which monkey is going to survive long enough to pass on its genes: the one who constructs a beautiful dream world in its mind where ever pool of water is a glistening oasis, or the monkey who is able to observe the physical world and look at two ponds, one stagnant and filthy and one clear and clean, then make a decision which is the best pond to drink from? Which monkey is going to get dysentery? How is it borrowing from the Christian worldview to realize that being able to accurately observe the world around us will necessarily aid survival more than our brains tricking and deceiving us? If we have to survive in the real world, then only understanding the real world will be beneficial.

    But besides a simple thought experiment like that one above, it is incredibly obvious that our brains process reality, and thus what is true, in favor of and instead of falsehoods. The fact that all humans observe the same things with the same results proves this point. When any living person looks at a red ball, they can describe the characteristics of it: round, red, smooth. All people observe the same object, and we know this because their observations all agree. This tells us that all of the observers are accurately judging reality, or that we are all sharing in the same exact delusion, in which chase it is so pervasive and so universal that it may as well be reality–no, scratch that, it would be reality.

    I can say with completely confidence that my brain rationally observes reality, and that it has developed the ability gradually as a result of evolution via natural selection. Is that the Christian worldview?

  • 76. Luke  |  February 20, 2009 at 6:14 pm

    “Why is it circular to want to build your house of reason on rock instead of shifting sands?”

    blessed is the person that builds on sand knowing what will happen… than one that builds on rock thinking it will last forever.

  • 77. Josh (guitarstrummr)  |  February 20, 2009 at 6:34 pm

    “Why is it circular to want to build your house of reason on rock instead of shifting sands?”

    This statement itself is circular. Wow, you can’t even see it.

  • 78. Josh (guitarstrummr)  |  February 20, 2009 at 6:40 pm

    Actually, the more I think about that statement, the more golden it becomes. In that one simple statement Yurka revealed everything.

  • 79. LeoPardus  |  February 20, 2009 at 7:08 pm

    No it isn’t.

    No, what isn’t what…??? Sheesh, try to tie things together so you make a little sense.

    If you trust that your minds produce rational thoughts, you ARE borrowing from the Christian world view.

    Oh. How interesting. So the Greeks were borrowing from the Christian world view before Christ. Impressive. And before that I suppose no one thought they were thinking rationally.
    And within the Christian world view what do you do with the refrain (which you’ve used) that we can’t entirely trust our minds since Satan is out there confounding us? Or with the Biblical idea that we are evil/sinful and our minds are corrupt?

    As evolutionists, you will hopefully be honest enough to admit that evolution would select for *survival* promoting beliefs, but not necessarily *true* beliefs.

    Completely right. I mean look at the plethora of religious beliefs that have existed in this world. If evolution selected for religious beliefs, it surely was selecting them for some survival benefit, ’cause they sure don’t reflect truth.

  • 80. LeoPardus  |  February 20, 2009 at 7:11 pm

    “Why is it circular to want to build your house of reason on rock instead of shifting sands?”

    Yurka’s hero, Van Til, is infamous for his grand piece of idiocy, “If I’m using circular reasoning it’s OK, because I’m circling around God.” :) :(

  • 81. Yurka  |  February 20, 2009 at 8:38 pm

    #75 orDover How is it borrowing from the Christian worldview to realize that being able to accurately observe the world around us will necessarily aid survival more than our brains tricking and deceiving us? If we have to survive in the real world, then only understanding the real world will be beneficial.

    But you cannot assume that. Survival-producing and true beliefs do not necessarily coincide. Plantinga once gave an example to illustrate the point: let’s say a rabbit saw a hungry wolf and desired to go towards the wolf, and also had the false belief that he would approach the wolf by running in the opposite direction. Then his false belief would have survival benefit. The point is that you CANNOT use evolution as a foundation for trusting your reason, since false beliefs can have survival benefit, and if reasoning is based on an evolved ‘mechanism’ that mechanism might produce nothing but false beliefs. But you do trust your reason. You also trust in the continuity of natural laws, but why, if those laws just popped into being out of nothing? Where does all this faith come from?

  • 82. paleale  |  February 20, 2009 at 9:22 pm

    Whether or not evolution was ‘selecting’ one belief or another is irrelevant. I think it unlikely that evolution would have anything to do with specifically what one’s religious beliefs are. What evolved was our capacity to believe. And no one ever said every mutation was a good mutation. Furthermore, we may be in the process of a natural DE-selection of that capacity. How long does it take for a particular trait or ability to come and go? Thousands of years? Tens or hundreds of thousands? When was the last time whale’s used their hips? I know I haven’t used my appendix lately.

    Scientists have done studies on genetic code that is believed to make one more susceptible to a belief in the supernatural or mysticism or things not generally proveable based on the the body’s ability to produce certain sensations and emotions in given situations. The ‘tingles’, more or less.

    So while we may get frustrated with Yurka’s apparent aversion to logic, it may be that his capacity to reason may be genetically inhibited by more “spiritual” markers.

  • 83. paleale  |  February 20, 2009 at 9:43 pm

    …and Alvin Plantinga

  • 84. paleale  |  February 20, 2009 at 10:04 pm

    And lastly, what the crap kind of ridiculous example is that bit with the rabbit and the wolf? Aesop’s Fables would be a more realistic example than that! Sheesh.

  • 85. LeoPardus  |  February 21, 2009 at 12:28 am

    For any of y’all interested in Plantinga (i.e. the current spew of idiocy that Yurka is mindlessly parroting), follow this link for a very brief review. From there you may follow further links if you wish.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alvin_Plantinga#Evolutionary_argument_against_naturalism

    Yurka, read something else. Like a different point of view.

  • 86. Anonymous  |  February 21, 2009 at 1:21 pm

    “Where does all this faith come from?”

    From unanswered questions and an active imagination that is often used in place of reason to solve problems.

  • [...] here is “The Gospel According to Josh.” You can read the original posts here, here, and here. In the beginning God exists for an eternity. At some point he begets a son and chooses him to be [...]

  • 88. Alban  |  December 19, 2013 at 7:07 am

    Sometimes it is the simple answer that is the wisest. Life itself is our common denominator. Not too many are good at differentiating between the inherents in life itself vs our choices in the circumstances and results of good and bad decisions.

    Implications emerge, imagination goes wild and then we rely on interpretation of all the analysts to provide their ‘sober’ conclusions.

    Josh has been excellent in illuminating the challenges of scripture. The specific conclusions he intimates or exclaims seem sober enough to an investigatory mind. Yet the source and the shadow of smartness never sees the simple. It becomes drunk in its complication, cocky in its judgement…although more correct than not in ‘superficial facts’.

    Trouble is our sophistication embraces arrogant analysis at the expense of not having what each one really wants in every age…to be happy. But in 2 separate endeavors. Each exists independent of the other. Our research, education and pride in that analysis cannot separate the external efforts to understand and accomplish with knowing what we are. We think we can figure it ALL out like it’s a formula that is escaping us while in reality the happiness or fulfillment simply exists within each of us. (Does get mentioned in most scripture)

    Predictions are spooky if not just a waste of time in this pursuit. Jesus, a Christ or “God” himself wouldn’t play the sophistication game. Not when so much is at stake. And I’m not referring to disasters or destruction. To not have access to the pure simple joy of life is to miss everything.

    Implication and interpretation is always hangin’ around to muck up the dignity of the message and the dignity of human life.

    Of course the conveyer of that message literally backs up the message with tangible delivery, but the big question is the availability. Can we be open or receptive to the recognition of simple feeling vs smartypants paralysis? Is Armageddon the unrecognized struggle with our arrogance, preferring complication to simplicity in the face of fulfillment?

    The dissection need not go any farther than that.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Trackback this post  |  Subscribe to the comments via RSS Feed


Attention Christian Readers

Just in case you were wondering who we are and why we de-converted.

de-conversion wager

Whether or not you believe in God, you should live your life with love, kindness, compassion, mercy and tolerance while trying to make the world a better place. If there is no God, you have lost nothing and will have made a positive impact on those around you. If there is a benevolent God reviewing your life, you will be judged on your actions and not just on your ability to blindly believe in creeds- when there is a significant lack of evidence on how to define God or if he/she even exists.

Twitter

Archives

Blog Stats

  • 1,997,483 hits since March 2007

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 199 other followers