The Golden Rule challenge to Christians

March 14, 2009 at 10:43 pm 193 comments

As a believer in Christianity, I reached a point where I ran into this dilemma:

Christians are supposed to follow the golden rule.

Christians ask those outside the faith to seriously question their own beliefs.

Therefore, if I was to be an honest Christian following the golden rule, I should analyze my own beliefs to the same degree which I require those outside the faith to do.

At this point, I began to study the atheist / skeptic perspective in depth and discovered I could no longer hold onto my faith because under scrutiny it was no better than any other religious worldview.

Now then, what I find so hard to understand is how Jesus advocated following the golden rule (“Do unto others as you would have them do unto you”) yet I have met very few – if any – Christians who seriously follow this principle in their attempts to proselytize.

I guess my question is this: why is this so hard for Christians to seriously do? Most believers I have met tend to isolate their study to that material which either confirms what they believe and / or debunks every other worldview. Why do you guys think this is?

- Josh

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  • 1. orDover  |  March 14, 2009 at 11:08 pm

    I think a lot of Christians would honestly believe that they have questioned their faith, and have found several solid proofs to defend it. At my Christian school we were presented with some of the arguments against the faith, and then given the information to rebut. I’m sure several of my schoolmates considered that shallow parroting exercise a real “investigation” of their faith. And as a bonus, it was done in the comfort and structure of the Church, so it wasn’t seen as subversive or unfaithful.

  • 2. Joshua  |  March 14, 2009 at 11:52 pm

    Thanks orDover, it is getting harder and harder for me to identify with the simplistic answers that many accept within the faith.

    As a side note, as I look back I realize that I rarely did accept the simple answers as gospel. I always felt like I was looking for something deeper. I never accepted something because someone said it or because it sounded good. Perhaps it was this very skepticism – and daring – which eventually caused me to leave the faith altogether!

  • 3. poppies  |  March 15, 2009 at 1:25 am

    Please take a moment to drop by my blog and lend some of your perspective to my “convince me” project. Obviously you would be a good person from which to hear. Thanks!

  • 4. ArchangelChuck  |  March 15, 2009 at 3:57 am

    It’s rooted in the whole “eternal torment for nonbelievers” dogma. Your question can be rationalized by their assumption that, if they were “lost,” then they would want to be saved. It follows, to them, that everyone else who is lost also wants to be “saved” whether they know/admit it or not.

  • 5. ArchangelChuck  |  March 15, 2009 at 3:58 am

    Here’s a real challenge for Christians. Go to biblegateway.com and look up Matthew 6:1-8. Replace every occurrence of the words “hypocrite” and “Pharisee” with the word “Christian.”

  • 6. † P§¥KØ †™  |  March 15, 2009 at 10:12 am

    Josh, actually I have done what you have done as well. After a few years of simply believing, I was also curious about the arguments of others. That began my long road into the criticisms of Christianity and religion as a whole. I began by reading and watching a lot of things that supported Christianity, but in my mind, I knew it was not a fair way to only read things that supported my beliefs. So I began watching atheistic documentaries, I bought books ranging from the occult to Richard Dawkins’ The God Delusion. I researched on many other religions, their evidences and I focused especially on atheism.

    I can only say that has strengthened my faith, and now I have even more better reasons for believing than when I first became a Christian. And it wasn’t just accepting all those “faithy” answers either. I looked hard into the most harsh criticisms against Christianity and did not back down until I found an answer that was sufficient in properly explaining the criticisms, or at least, easing the criticisms in context, so that it would not be such a major issue.

    However, I know a lot of Christians who just don’t want to think they’ve been believing is all wrong. All that they’ve enjoyed and loved… they’re scared to find out if its all fake. I was fearful too, of that, until I took a step of faith and it was strengthened.

    I must admit, though, very few Christians I know have taken the same road as me. I guess the fear really prevents them from searching for the truth.

    And ArchangelChuck, I have done what you asked. It is a very valid criticism of Christianity in many parts of the world.

  • 7. Joshua  |  March 15, 2009 at 2:26 pm

    “and now I have even more better reasons for believing than when I first became a Christian.”

    Can you please explain why it is you believe that Jesus as the Christ is not a legend? Please provide hard facts and textual evidence without an assumption as to the inerrancy of Scripture or an assumption on the validity of what the documents say.

    For example, I could not escape – as hard as I tried – the evidence that the gospels were slowly evolving over time.

    “and now I have even more better reasons for believing than when I first became a Christian.”

    I’m really curious. Are these reasons philosophical or evidential? For me, I can find dozens of philosophical reasons to be a Christian, but no solid evidential reasons. On that basis, I cannot accept the faith, other than as a “good idea” that evolved over time into what it is today.

    For example, can you explain why it is that so much of the New Testament imagery and ideas (including demonic possession) is descended from the Book of Enoch, which has been shown to be completely pseudopigraphal? Take the direct quote in Jude, for example. I cannot rectify the reality of Christianity with this evidence that suggests it was nothing more than a growing collection of legends that were evolving over time.

    I don’t want to get into a huge discussion, but I’m really curious, either:

    If I am right, what you “missed”.
    If you are right, what I “missed”.

    And please do not appeal to “well, we all interpret the evidence differently” or I’ll probably cry uncle :) At the end of the day, we all use the same logic and rules of reasoning to interpret the evidence, we just have different levels of willingness to accept the direction those rules and logic lead us when interpreting the evidence.

    If this discussion gets too deep, we can carry it over to my blog. I’m just super curious how we both could look at the same evidence, apply the same principle, and come to different conclusions, unless – of course – we were not looking at the same evidence or applying the same principles.

  • 8. grace  |  March 15, 2009 at 3:01 pm

    I want to add on to what Psyko has said, here. Years ago when I was especially struggling with issues of faith, and was agnostic, I definitely searched out more all these opposing concerns, and arguments back, and forth as many are doing here.

    In more recent years, I’ve studied stuff by the Jesus Seminar, the whole search for the historical Jesus group, if some here are familar with this, Ehrdman, somethings by Sam Harris,…going futher back Bultmann, etc. And, I’ve learned about other faiths, and philosophies out there as well.

    But, to be honest, there’s only so much time in the day. And, I think every writer, including the Christian apologists, is certainly going to reflect a certain bias.

    And, no argument, humanly speaking can be airtight, one way or the other. We certainly can’t empircally prove God in a test tube, or provide every answer.

    At a certain point in my life, I really did take a leap of faith, and made a committment. And, I think this would have been true if I had remained agnostic/atheist, or become a Christian.

    I have to add, though, that I certainly could not be a Christian believer if I felt intellectually unsatisfied, or compelled to check my mind at the church door.

    At this point in my spiritual journey, I spend alot of time on the social aspects of the gospel. I’m a social worker working with families in trouble, and I’m also interested in how we can live more sustainably, working on projects relating to this.

    But, Josh, in my everyday life, if I were in alot of ongoing contact,a nd sharing with people who were skeptics, and as part of our dialogue together, they would ask me to also read certain books, I wouldn’t really have a problem with that, either. The whole thing doesn’t threaten my faith, or anything like that.

    But, we’re just all at different places in our lives, and in our spiritual journey.

  • 9. CheezChoc  |  March 15, 2009 at 3:01 pm

    If all the people who called themselves Christians actually followed the teachings of Jesus–visiting the lonely and incarcerated, caring for the sick, feeding the hungry, assisting the poor, etc.–the world would be a much better place, IMHO.
    Instead, many of them focus only on themselves and their church, or engage in destructive or time-wasting actions: let’s have another potluck, prayer breakfast, retreat, pester the congregation to give more so they can build a basketball court in the church parking lot, argue with people about the age of the earth, pick on gays, and so forth.

  • 10. Joshua  |  March 15, 2009 at 3:20 pm

    “And, no argument, humanly speaking can be airtight, one way or the other.”

    Is this argument air tight?

    “The whole thing doesn’t threaten my faith, or anything like that. ”

    And this is part of the problem, in my opinion. If a person’s faith cannot be threatened in any way, then how can it be true? In other words, I could invent a faith of my own that no evidence could falsify. But that does not mean the faith claim is true, it just means I invented a faith that no one can attack.

    In order for a faith claim to be true, there has to be a statement that if true would make that faith claim false. It has to be falsifiable.

    I could claim there is an invisible, untasteable, untouchable, spiritual white elephant in this room right now that is transferring magical powers that are keeping me alive. No one can falsify it. But is it true?

    What thing, if found to be true, would falsify your faith in Christianity? If there is nothing, what is the difference between your faith and my faith in the invisible elephant?

  • 11. Joshua  |  March 15, 2009 at 3:25 pm

    “If all the people who called themselves Christians actually followed the teachings of Jesus”

    But the teachings of Jesus are so open to interpretation. Should people honestly become eunuchs for the kingdom of God? Should masters beat their slaves? Should I chop gouge out my eye whenever I look at a woman lustfully?

    The truth is, in my opinion, that people hold the teachings of Jesus up to a moral standard which they believe exists outside of the Bible. So when coming across a passage which sounds too harsh, they soften it and say “Well, what Jesus really means is…”

    My point is that Christians themselves admit there is a moral standard out there by which they should interpret Scripture, which means that they do not get their morals from Scripture.

    So then, where do they get them? The same place atheists, agnostics, skeptics, and everyone else gets there morals. From cultural expectations and evolutionary in-built morals.

    At least that is how I see it right now.

  • 12. LeoPardus  |  March 15, 2009 at 4:22 pm

    The big reason Christians won’t investigate their faith thoroughly, nor follow the evidence out of the faith, is what you said in your deleted post. The pressure to stay in the faith is not intellectual. It is emotional, social, and psychological.

  • 13. Grace  |  March 15, 2009 at 5:53 pm

    I think Joshua, if the empty tomb was proven to be a total hoax, or we could somehow manage to create complex life from non-life out of nothing, some things like that would certainly impact my thinking.

    I think another huge issue is that because I’ve been a Christian for so many years, I have alot of personal experience of how I believe God has worked in my life, and ways that I’ve sensed His help, and presence. And, that’s something that no real argument from someone else can explain away.

    You know it’s one thing for someone to say, I don’t believe God is real for me, or I haven’t experienced His presence, but how can someone really have an infinite kind of knowledge to also judge this for other folks who steadfastly affirm otherwise.

    Do you see what I mean?

  • 14. kingdomkeysbooks  |  March 15, 2009 at 6:48 pm

    The intersting thing about faith is that it is always subjective. As a Christian of 30+ years, I have had many moments where I questioned the reality and validity of my “faith”. I have spent many years studying the Bible while also being a great fan of history. This often brings me to those points of conflict. Is what I beleive just a collection of myths and fables? What about all of the supposed emperical evidence that conludes with “It is not true”? In the end I only have the evidence of my life to go on.
    In the late 70′s I was a great sceptic, I refused to believe anything that I was “told”, includung in church. I delved into mind over matter and other eastern though. I was a Professional musician and I also was seriously chemically aided. People were always informing me of my need to be saved from hell and myself and on and on. I had several interesting experiences that proved to me that there was a spiritual realm. It is difficult to explain let alone prove these happenings, but to this day they are blazed into my memory bank and still very real to me ( If you are interested in more specifics,contact me). In the end I was left with more questions than answers, much as I percieve you are. There had to be something, but what. I never quite warmed up to the theory of evolution as it is too full of theory and not enough concrete evidence. I am a great fan of nature, living in Oregon will do that to you. I have invested some serious quality time in the forests and the thing that always amazes me it the absolute intricacies that are there. As someone who is extremely linear, the thought of it all being random did not compute, it had to much inherent design to it. I do not want to enter a scientific discussion here about the origins of nature, I will award that by default since I am not a scientist, just a dude paying attention. Eventually I came to my faith in God, specifically Jesus, through the process of elimination, which one made the most sense and provided the best life to live. This kind of drives my evangelical and pentacostal friends nuts, but that is how it happened. When I actually sought God Himself, I found Him. I now have a relationship with Him, I talk to Him and He responds. I can’t “prove this materially, only by experience, mine. Thus I would have to admit that my faith is subjective. I choose to believe what I read in the Bible. I can find in history, not just the bible itself, countless references to Jesus and the God of Isreal. The 1st century Jewish historian Josephus actually references him. There is more written about Jesus that Julius Caesar. But that is not why I believe. I beleive because of the real things that I have experienced in my life. God is real to me because I choose to know Him. I don’t know if this helps your thoughts or confuses them. I would love to give you all kinds of Bible exegesis, but I don’t think that would help here. I would that you un-de-convert, but that is not my decision to make. Only you can make that one. Good luck in you searches for truth.
    Glenn Smith Jr

  • 15. Joshua  |  March 15, 2009 at 7:13 pm

    “The pressure to stay in the faith is not intellectual. It is emotional, social, and psychological.”

    I am seriously considering rewriting that post without all the personal references (I was mostly concerned that it would only make things unduly difficult for my brother if he found out I was talking about him publicly).

    I guess the question is this: the golden rule seems to me to be a social and emotional moral basis. Therefore it would seem that Christians would not only find keeping this rule intellectually stimulating – even if it lead away from faith – but also socially and emotionally stimulating.

  • 16. kingdomkeysbooks  |  March 15, 2009 at 7:28 pm

    I think that clearly if we as people, Christian or not, actually followed the “golden rule”, there would simply be less arguements and more honest discussions.
    You are dead on with this statement “The pressure to stay in the faith is not intellectual. It is emotional, social, and psychological.”

    You cannot intellectually have faith, it is not logical and therefore cannot always be explained with intelect alone. As for the pressure, that must come from within or else you become a hypocrite or, better put, an actor.
    Glenn

  • 17. Joshua  |  March 15, 2009 at 10:05 pm

    Ha. I said “chop gouge”. What the hell?

    lol

  • 18. Anonymous  |  March 16, 2009 at 12:08 am

    I used to be Christian. I took the golden rule seriously. I studied to be a minister. I found out Christianity is a lie and apologists are con-artists.

    My proof? The “messianic prophecies” are obvious lies. Plain and simple. Now, I could tell you to believe that by faith, but I’m not a conman nor would I insult your intelligence, so here’s the evidence:

    Matthew 2:16 states that Jeremiah 31:15 is a prophecy about Herod killing babies and Jesus escaping. This is a LIE because:

    1. the messiah is not mentioned in Jer. 31:15
    2. king herod is not mentioned in Jer. 31:15
    3. the children in Jer. 31:15 “will return to their own land” but in Matt. 2:16 they DIE!

    Every apologist argument I’ve found for this assumes you can take prophecy as symbolically as you want to which makes it MEAN whatever you want it to. SCAM! You could do the SAME THING for Nostradamus, astrologists, or Sylvia Browne if you really wanted to. If anyone has a REAL argument let me know. Otherwise, I’m sick of the bison excrement!

  • 19. Erudite Redneck  |  March 16, 2009 at 12:19 am

    I think calling them “lies” is way overstating it. The question is whether the writers of the Gospels believed what they wrote to be true. If they believed what they wrote, then maybe they were wrong, but they weren’t lying.

    This isn’t an argument defending those supposed prophecies, but it’s a different take on them:

    I think that interpreting this Jesus as the Messiah was a logical thing to do for his earliest followers, since by following him they already had started to make a fundamental break with the orthodoxy of their day; they either had to find a way to extend some strains of their pre-Jesus world view and concept of God to envelope Jesus and their experience with him, or experience an even more violent psychic break, the kind that would have left them spiritually adrift and hopeless.

    Related to this, I think the Greek interpretation of Jesus, as the Christ, as an expression of Logos also is a logical way for Greek gentiles to interpret the Jesus phenomenon, tying him, as it did, to existing concepts of the divine principle of the universe, the basis of the cosmological order, or however you want to say it.

  • 20. Erudite Redneck  |  March 16, 2009 at 12:29 am

    Joshua, re: “What thing, if found to be true, would falsify your faith in Christianity?”

    Prove this to be true and you got me: “God does not exist.”*

    (* in any way, meaning, if God created existence, God still isn’t. Man, that’s hard to get across. Hmmm. Prove: “no God.”)

  • 21. Roger  |  March 16, 2009 at 12:58 am

    The beginning of my quest for the truth began with the study of Matthew 24:34. I followed all the related scripture to its end conclusion.Christ was to return in 1st century…period.The bible was never meant to be a published book because everyone back then expected the world to end.

    It’s taken one HELLUVA lot of scripture twisting to keep this farce going for the last two thousand years.

  • 22. Joshua  |  March 16, 2009 at 1:00 am

    “Prove this to be true and you got me: “God does not exist.”*”

    Ok, first of all, this doesn’t make any sense. I asked what it would take to disprove Christianity, and you reply to prove that God does not exist? What makes you think that if a God exists He would, by default, be the God who supports Christianity?

    That dubious assumption aside, my simple response would be: define God.

    One cannot disprove a concept which, by definition, is the source of everything. Its impossible. However, if a person defines God in such a way as to also predict his interaction with this world, then that God can be disproven to exist.

    For example, if one defines God as the being which, every ten years, causes all humans to congregate at the south pole, then that God can be proven to not exist.

    If you define God the way Christianity – in almost every sect – has, then that God can be proven to not exist. For example, if one defines God as a being which is omniscient, omnibenevolent, and omnipotent, then this God can be proven to not exist because the universe does not show evidence of a divine Being by these characteristics.

    Make sense?

  • 23. Joshua  |  March 16, 2009 at 1:03 am

    “The beginning of my quest for the truth began with the study of Matthew 24:34. I followed all the related scripture to its end conclusion.Christ was to return in 1st century…period.”

    Wow, incredible insight. I always thought the explanations of that verse by Christian theologians were ignoring the issue myself.

  • 24. CheezChoc  |  March 16, 2009 at 1:36 am

    quote from Joshua: Ha. I said “chop gouge”. What the hell?

    You just really, really like your action verbs. :)

  • 25. kingdomkeysbooks  |  March 16, 2009 at 1:50 am

    I love a lively discussion. For those who want to say that God doesn’t exist, I ask “why put up such a fuss about it”? You could simply ignore the people who are certainly not all there and just go on and enjoy your life. I know that it is probably a major imposition to have Jesus shoved in your face all of the time, I felt that way back in the 70′s. What worked for me back then I am sure will work for you now, just ignore them.
    Now maybe we of the religious set are right and maybe not, but one thing I do know, sometime between now and death, we will all find out. No great revelation there, just a basic scientific fact. Anyway, it has been interesting dropping in on a non-christian blog. I have many non-christian friends and so I do find the conversation interesting (sometimes I even learn something too).
    Good night to you all and I will leave you to your lifes journey, live it well. Glenn

  • 26. edwinhere  |  March 16, 2009 at 7:37 am

    @kingdomkeysbooks,

    Reality needs defenders. Unlike certain almighty imaginary friends certain people have, reality needs apologists, because reality is not almighty. Reality cannot reveal itself entirely, out of its own will/choice. In other words, exploration is necessary to understand its underlying nature. (As a side note, it is amusing to note that the christian almighty imaginary friend is not almighty enough to leave evidence that can convince 4 billion non-Christians, although the christian almighty imaginary friend is all-knowing enough to know what it would take to convince the 4 billion non-Christians of its existence in a jiffy, and thereby give them the salvation It desperately wants everyone to have, through, among other things, a faith in Its existence.)

  • 27. Paige  |  March 16, 2009 at 9:31 am

    I’d say you are not very good at ignoring Glenn. If so, you would have ignored this blog and moved on without comment.

  • 28. Joshua  |  March 16, 2009 at 10:20 am

    “For those who want to say that God doesn’t exist, I ask “why put up such a fuss about it”?”

    Its hard to ignore when my family is teaching my little kid sister that your God is sending me to hell.

  • 29. Erudite Redneck  |  March 16, 2009 at 11:26 am

    Joshua:

    In No. 22, you say:

    (Quoting me): “Prove this to be true and you got me: “God does not exist.”*”

    Then you say, still in No. 22: “Ok, first of all, this doesn’t make any sense. I asked what it would take to disprove Christianity, and you reply to prove that God does not exist?”

    NO, YOU did NOT ask “what it would take to disprove Christianity.”

    What you DID ask, in No. 10, last graf, first sentrence: “What thing, if found to be true, would falsify your faith in Christianity?”

    I say again: “Prove this to be true and you got me: “God does not exist.”*”

    You cannot. Then, by your own reasoning, my faith claim is not falsifiabe. Neither is your faith in the hwite elephant.

    Such are the limits of logic in assessing the validity and value of matters of faith.

  • 30. Erudite Redneck  |  March 16, 2009 at 11:44 am

    “The beginning of my quest for the truth began with the study of Matthew 24:34. I followed all the related scripture to its end conclusion.Christ was to return in 1st century…period.The bible was never meant to be a published book because everyone back then expected the world to end.”

    I can’t argue with that. Question: At what point in Christian history died “sinless,” which is a necessary trait for the notions of incarnation and atonement to make sense, become “perfect”? It had to have been way, way back there.

    Which is to say: Jesus, if he thought the world would end in his generation, which he clearly did, was wrong. But being wrong is not a sin — is it?

    Anyway, my quest continues to bring Christ down to size, to the size of Jesus, who is someone I can personally idtentify with, follow and trust — his Way, not necessarily his views limited by the humanity of a first-century cosmology and inherited apocalyptic world view. A Superhero Christ from Outer Space — alone, I mean — not so much. Truly God, truly human. Sinless. Not “perfect.”

  • 31. BigHouse  |  March 16, 2009 at 12:10 pm

    NO, YOU did NOT ask “what it would take to disprove Christianity.”

    What you DID ask, in No. 10, last graf, first sentrence: “What thing, if found to be true, would falsify your faith in Christianity?”

    You really think these 2 questions are markedly different?

    Which is to say: Jesus, if he thought the world would end in his generation, which he clearly did, was wrong. But being wrong is not a sin — is it?

    If he is the purported Son of God then yea, I’d think his being “wrong” would be a pretty big deal, no?

  • 32. GaryC  |  March 16, 2009 at 12:36 pm

    “For those who want to say that God doesn’t exist, I ask “why put up such a fuss about it”?”

    Its hard to ignore when my family is teaching my little kid sister that your God is sending me to hell.

    It’s hard to ignore when the U.S. government implies, as a matter of national statute, that one has to believe in God in order to be a good American.

    I am referring, of course, to Title 4, Chapt. 1, Sec.4 (Pledge of Allegiance) and Title 36, Chapt. 3, Sec. 302 (National Motto) of the United States Code — both of which arguably contravene the Constitution of the United States, Amendment I.

  • 33. GaryC  |  March 16, 2009 at 12:54 pm

    Which is to say: Jesus, if he thought the world would end in his generation, which he clearly did, was wrong. But being wrong is not a sin — is it?

    Is it clear that Jesus thought this, or is it actually only clear that that someone claiming to quote Jesus thought this? I submit that our ability to determine what Jesus thought is quite limited. For one thing, he left behind no writings of his own that would help establish more definitively what he actually thought.

    Did Jesus actually think he was sinless? Mark 10:18 and Luke 18;19 would seem to imply otherwise. But again, how do we know what Jesus actually thought?

  • 34. GaryC  |  March 16, 2009 at 1:29 pm

    I say again: “Prove this to be true and you got me: “God does not exist.”*”

    You cannot. Then, by your own reasoning, my faith claim is not falsifiabe.

    Your faith claim might or might not be falsifiable, I don’t know. Define “God” and list what you think are said entity’s primary attributes. Then we’ll see.

  • 35. Joshua  |  March 16, 2009 at 1:36 pm

    “You cannot. Then, by your own reasoning, my faith claim is not falsifiabe. Neither is your faith in the hwite elephant.”

    Exactly. So neither might as well be true.

    On the other hand, teaching about the white elephant doesn’t cause little sisters to cry themselves to sleep because they are terrified of hell, now does it?

  • 36. Joshua  |  March 16, 2009 at 1:37 pm

    “Your faith claim might or might not be falsifiable, I don’t know. Define “God” and list what you think are said entity’s primary attributes. Then we’ll see.”

    Bingo!

  • 37. Erudite Redneck  |  March 16, 2009 at 2:47 pm

    Re, “If he is the purported Son of God then yea, I’d think his being “wrong” would be a pretty big deal, no?”

    No, not if, as the Heidelberg Catechism puts it, “the eternal Son of God … took upon himself our true manhood …”

    No, not if, as the Westminster Confession/Savoy Declaration puts it, “The second Person in the Trinity … did … take upon him Man’s nature, with all the essential properties and common infirmities thereof, yet without sin. …”

    No, not if, a the Evangelical Catechusm put it, “Jesus Christ is true God and true man in one person. He thereby entered into human nature and became in all things as we are, yet without sin.”

    Come on. Take the historic confessions or leave them. But engage them first, at least.

  • 38. Erudite Redneck  |  March 16, 2009 at 2:50 pm

    Re, “If he is the purported Son of God then yea, I’d think his being “wrong” would be a pretty big deal, no?”

    No, not if, as the Heidelberg Catechism puts it, “the eternal Son of God … took upon himself our true manhood …”

    No, not if, as the Westminster Confession/Savoy Declaration puts it, “The second Person in the Trinity … did … take upon him Man’s nature, with all the essential properties and common infirmities thereof, yet without sin. …”

    No, not if, as the Evangelical Catechism puts it, “Jesus Christ is true God and true man in one person. He thereby entered into human nature and became in all things as we are, yet without sin.”

    Come on. Take the historic confessions or leave them. But engage them first, at least.

  • 39. Erudite Redneck  |  March 16, 2009 at 2:56 pm

    Re, “I submit that our ability to determine what Jesus thought is quite limited.”

    I agree. But it’s not impossible to come fairly close, I don’t think.

  • 40. BigHouse  |  March 16, 2009 at 2:56 pm

    Come on. Take the historic confessions or leave them. But engage them first, at least.

    The more I engage them, the more ludicrous they appear. That you are happy to twist yourself into an apolgetic pretzel to make it “work” for you is not my problem.

  • 41. Erudite Redneck  |  March 16, 2009 at 2:59 pm

    Re, “Your faith claim might or might not be falsifiable, I don’t know.”

    By Jioshua’s reckoning, which is what I was engaging, it is not falsifiable, since what I said was this, if proven, would wreck my faith: Prove: no God. Which, being a negaqtive, can’t be done.

    Re, “Define ‘God’ and list what you think are said entity’s primary attributes. Then we’ll see.”

    Not necessary. The task is to prove: no God. God’s attributes are irrelevant, since the negative cannot be proved.

  • 42. Erudite Redneck  |  March 16, 2009 at 3:01 pm

    Re, “Exactly. So neither might as well be true.”

    I think you mean: “So maybe neither is true,” which is a very diffeent remark than, “So neither might as well be true.”

    Re, “On the other hand, teaching about the white elephant doesn’t cause little sisters to cry themselves to sleep because they are terrified of hell, now does it?”

    You got me! No bearing on the trueness or falseness of anything, though.

  • 43. Erudite Redneck  |  March 16, 2009 at 3:06 pm

    LOL. No pretzelizing here. I just tried to get past all false dichotomies. Hell, I’m even suspicious of not-false dichotomies.

  • 44. Erudite Redneck  |  March 16, 2009 at 3:08 pm

    Pretty good workout, but time for a breather. And to get some work done. Peace, y’all.

  • 45. Luke  |  March 16, 2009 at 4:07 pm

    “Christians who seriously follow this principle in their attempts to proselytize.”

    if someone is proselytizing, then odds are that they’re not following the golden rule. evangelization is about a way of life, not words.

    preach the gospel at all times, and if nessesary, use words.

  • 46. GaryC  |  March 16, 2009 at 4:07 pm

    Re, “Define ‘God’ and list what you think are said entity’s primary attributes. Then we’ll see.”

    Not necessary. The task is to prove: no God. God’s attributes are irrelevant, since the negative cannot be proved.

    “God(n): An imaginary entity.”

    So you’re half right. “No God” turns out to be true by definition though it actually doesn’t matter, given the definition, what particular attributes might or might not be ascribed to said entity. Contrast with:

    “Unicorn(n): an imaginary creature represented as a white horse with a long horn growing from its forehead.”

    The unicorn is, like God, imaginary by definition, but, unlike God, is an imaginary entity with attributes that are part of the definition.

    Got any more tasks I can help with?

  • 47. Erudite Redneck  |  March 16, 2009 at 5:01 pm

    Re, “Got any more tasks I can help with?”

    LOL. No. That’s enough bile for now! Thanks, though. Next time, I’ll bring a bucket for it. :-)

  • 48. Joshua  |  March 16, 2009 at 6:14 pm

    Anyway…

    The point is that God has been defined in numerous different ways throughout the history of Christianity and all the definitions of God that I have ever seen are internally contradictory or are contradicted by human experience in this world.

    So if God exists, I guess He’s a contradiction. That’s all I’m sayin. If Erudite finds it convenient to describe this simple argument as “bile”, then what can one say?

    Of course, all of “man’s wisdom” is “bile” in the eyes of the deity of Christianity, so its a lose-lose situation for the person who wants to actually think about what they believe.

  • 49. Erudite Redneck  |  March 16, 2009 at 6:25 pm

    wtf? I very clearly directe myu “bile” remark ay GaryC. Because of mild asshattery. Jesus. Sometimes I think bloggery has been as bad for communication as Constantine’s “conversion” was for The Way.

  • 50. Josh (guitarstrummr)  |  March 16, 2009 at 6:57 pm

    I didn’t think Gary’s comment was bile at all.

  • 51. Erudite Redneck  |  March 16, 2009 at 7:10 pm

    Well, I did. But maybe “bile” was a little strong.

    Strike “bile.”

    Repeat “asshattery.”

    For: “Got any more tasks I can help with?” following his personal definition for “God” as “imaginary.” I mean, come on. I really do hang here some for better than that.

    But, whatev. Emotions abound in these discussions — ironic, really, for those to whom cool logic is the currency of the realm. Hee hee. :-)

  • 52. GaryC  |  March 16, 2009 at 7:15 pm

    . No. That’s enough bile for now! Thanks, though. Next time, I’ll bring a bucket for it.

    “Men of Athens! I see that in every way you are very religious. For as I walked around and looked carefully at your objects of worship, I even found an altar with this inscription: TO AN UNDEFINED GOD WITH IRRELEVANT ATTRIBUTES.”

    [With apologies to Saul of Tarsus].

  • 53. Eve's Apple  |  March 16, 2009 at 7:37 pm

    Re: The Golden Rule. I think this discussion has wandered way off base from its original question, which is the Golden Rule challenge.

    Basically I see this as a problem anytime a person makes an idol of their ideologies or beliefs. This is not necessarily restricted to Christians. I once knew an atheist who was one of the nastiest persons you ever wanted to meet, when it came to dealing with people who did not agree with him. At that time I was still in my Christian phase, and needless to say I got a good dose of his vitriol. One day I said to him, ok, supposing you are right and there is no god, etc. (Boy did he ever beam at that!) I continued, I have been watching how you treat me and how you treat others who don’t agree with you. Now I want to know, is that how I am supposed to treat others who still believe in God? Is that how I am supposed to treat friends, family, co-workers? Because to be honest, I am not impressed and I do not wish to act like that. He said, and these are his exact words, “You don’t know your ass from a hole in the ground!” I said that is exactly what I am talking about. I ask what I consider a reasonable question and I get only abuse in return. I would like to know just exactly what you meant by that comment. Instead he continued to verbally abuse me. He had become so wrapped up in his atheism that he could no longer see me as a fellow human being, only a target.

    He stood out precisely because he was an exception; most of the agnostics and atheists I have met were not like that. They disagreed but disagreed civilly and they were able to provide reasons for their disagreement; reasons that I was not able to refute, nor could anyone else that I asked.

    While I have not experienced that degree of abuse from Christians, I have been hurt many times by those who put their interpretation of the Word of God above other people’s feelings. These people then simultaneously say that they are sorry that I have been hurt by other Christians (never them!) and then give Scriptural quotes justifying their behavior!!! I have come to the conclusion that they know what they are doing and they do not care because they do not need to care. They are in the right and the rest of us are in the wrong and that is all there is to it. So there is no need to change.

    And yet, I hear over and over, that if a person leaves the faith it imust be either because of pure willfullness or because he or she was hurt. Well, if it was the second, then why the hell aren’t Christians looking at their behavior and changing it? Their own words bear witness that they know that there are things being done in Christ’s name that damage people and turn them away from him, yet they persist. If Christianity is true, if it is true that those who reject Jesus are going to eternal hell, then it seems like those who believe in him would do everything in their power to make sure no one ever went to hell because of their (Christians’) behavior; that if someone said certain actions or attitudes were serious stumbling blocks to accepting Christ then it seems to me the loving thing to do would be to take a good hard look at these stumbling blocks. But Christians do not want to listen to what nonbelievers have to say, because we are under the influence of Satan, who wishes to deceive us all and deprive us of heaven.

    Now I may be wrong about the whole thing; if so, I would suggest to my critics that instead of trying to persuade me (it’s a little too late for that), that they start listening, really listening to those around them who are hurting because of things done to them in the name of Jesus and start trying to make amends. I believe it was Jesus himself that said that if you are at the altar and you remember that your brother has something against you (not you have something against your brother), you are to immediately leave the altar and go make things right with him. And I think that is a sound principle no matter where you stand on faith issues.

  • 54. Joshua  |  March 17, 2009 at 12:58 am

    Eve, that is one of the more beautiful things I have seen written on this site so far.
    :)

  • 55. Luke  |  March 17, 2009 at 1:13 am

    a person doesn’t have to be a Christian to follow the golden rule. nor do they have to be Christian to be a nasty S.O.B.

    people are jerks. people are cool. people are about as nice as they make up their minds to be.

    if you get there through faith or logic, aren’t both a good thing? isn’t the point of life and most major religions centered around the notion of “don’t be a jerk”?

  • 56. Joshua  |  March 17, 2009 at 1:29 am

    “But, whatev. Emotions abound in these discussions — ironic, really, for those to whom cool logic is the currency of the realm. Hee hee.”

    For the most part the discussions on this site are level-headed. From what I have seen, the majority of emotion that gets injected into the discussion comes from the rippling effects of religious dogma.

  • 57. Joshua  |  March 17, 2009 at 1:44 am

    “if you get there through faith or logic, aren’t both a good thing? isn’t the point of life and most major religions centered around the notion of “don’t be a jerk”?”

    Agreed. Except that Christianity – if its doctrines are taken seriously – insists that its members treat those who disagree in a jerky fashion.

    Why not just drop the faith and not be a jerk?

  • 58. Luke  |  March 17, 2009 at 2:08 am

    that assumes a monolithic faith. there isn’t one nor has there ever been one. which doctrines? to be annoying about it.

    i think the faith is a good starting place. it’s where i came from and the community i turn to every sunday. the thing with human groups is that there will be conflict, tention, and stress from time to time, but when hard times befall you, it’s a great place of support. it’s a place of action and a place of learning.

    i just haven’t seen a better venue than the church to learn how you’ve been being a jerk and try on new ways of not being jerky.

  • 59. grace  |  March 17, 2009 at 7:05 am

    Luke, (LOL)

    I can totally relate to you last comment.

    Love,
    Your sister, Grace.

  • 60. Zoe  |  March 17, 2009 at 8:13 am

    Eve’s Apple # 53: Your comment would make a great post on it’s own here at d-C. Excellent!

  • 61. ArchangelChuck  |  March 17, 2009 at 9:44 am

    Re: Luke

    What you’ve described is precisely what the church should be: a free marketplace of ideas, a pillar of support, and a catalyst for “small actions from many” that contribute to the common good. If that were the case on a massive scale, I’m not entirely sure we would see a site like d-C. It simply wouldn’t be necessary.

    You’re simply going to have to accept that your Christianity is the exception to the rule. ;)

  • 62. orDover  |  March 17, 2009 at 11:48 am

    i just haven’t seen a better venue than the church to learn how you’ve been being a jerk and try on new ways of not being jerky.

    The church sure has done a good job teaching you all not to be jerks toward homosexuals, hu?

    I don’t need a venue to teach me how not to be a jerk. My parents did an okay job laying the non-jerky foundation for me years ago, and now I am an adult capable of telling right from wrong and jerky from non-jerky all on my own! Imagine that.

  • 63. LeoPardus  |  March 17, 2009 at 11:57 am

    i just haven’t seen a better venue than the church to learn how you’ve been being a jerk and try on new ways of not being jerky.

    I just haven’t seen a better venue than the church to learn how jerky church people are, and to see them develop new ways of being even jerkier.

  • 64. Luke  |  March 17, 2009 at 12:28 pm

    “The church sure has done a good job teaching you all not to be jerks toward homosexuals, hu”

    yup! but i recognize that i’m the exception as ArchChuck said. hard for me to come to grips with the christianity y’all describe vs the one i’ve lived and known for my past 27 years on the planet.

    “to see them develop new ways of being even jerkier”

    yeah… and that’s the shitty part about it. but we can do that in any group… democrats can be jerky to republicans who are jerky to libertarians… what i’m about is how to get over this, get over the us vs. them and get to an US!

    i think the church can be the vehicle to this… but there’s a poo-load of work to do. that’s why i’m here. to see the objections and see how to get out of this way of thinking.

    y’all have been very helpful and i don’t want to seem like a troll or someone who white-washes the problems of the church. apologetics is not my deal, reform is. dialogue is. so thanks for the toleration thus far. it’s been enriching!

  • 65. Luke  |  March 17, 2009 at 12:29 pm

    oh.. and the yup! in 64 was a yes that my church HAS taught me not to be a jerk towards homosexuals and that’s why i preach from the pulpit at least once a month.

  • 66. orDover  |  March 17, 2009 at 1:23 pm

    Luke, it was a rhetorical question, not directed at you personally. But even so, you recognize that you are in the minority. My over-arching point is that every positive doctrine the church presents is balanced by a negative one. They preach the love of Christ out of one side of their mouth, and the condemnation of anyone different out of the other. They temper that with, “Love the sinner, but hate the sin,” which is an almost impossible notion. Christian churches teach bigotry and intolerance just as often as they teach to love one’s neighbor.

  • 67. Luke  |  March 17, 2009 at 1:43 pm

    orDover… i hear ya.. it’s nonsense…

    “the minute [The Church] even hints that morals, and not forgiveness, is the name of her game, she instantly corrupts the Gospel and runs headlong into blatant nonsense. Then the church becomes, not Ms. Forgiven Sinner, but Ms. Right and Christianity becomes the good guys in here versus the bad guys out there. Which, of course, is pure garbage for the church is nothing but the world under the sign of baptism” Robert Capon, Hunting the Divine Fox, pp. 132-133.

    i’m going into ministry to find a new way. Christianity is not a failed enterprise, but an untried one! Gandhi, King, Mandela, O’Day, Milk, all of these got close. they called for what you’re speaking about… largely to the opposition of other Christians. i think your pain and frustration and deconversion are in effect more christian that other blogs that i encounter or systematic theologies i’m exposed to.

    so i feel a kindred spirit among you, but i think that my practice and approach is a dividing factor here. so it goes… but i thank y’all for the thoughts and critiques and jokes!

  • 68. Erudite Redneck  |  March 17, 2009 at 1:59 pm

    What Luke said, especially: “Christianity is not a failed
    enterprise, but an untried one!”

    Also puzzling is this: Even at overt atheist, not-former-Christian blogs, I’ve observed that I think those guys are closer to God than almost any Christian site I’ve ever seen — because they, the atheists, put more THINKING into why they do not believe than the Christians put into whay they DO believe, for the most part.

    And as for me and my house, we … want to hang around thinkers more than nonthinkers. :-) (But I still try to serve da Lord, too.)

  • 69. Joshua  |  March 17, 2009 at 2:02 pm

    “i’m going into ministry to find a new way. Christianity is not a failed enterprise, but an untried one”

    If the Holy Spirit can’t do it, what makes you think you can?

    And the moment one suggest the Holy Spirit does not actually exist, then what’s the point of Christianity?

    Christianity depends upon an invisible being to bring about the change it requires. If that change is no better than the world, then that invisible being does not exist. If the invisible being does not exist, then Christianity is a failed theory.

    2000 years is enough for me.

  • 70. Luke  |  March 17, 2009 at 2:26 pm

    Joshua,

    i’m not asking you to believe as i do, but to act as i hope and aspire to!

    there are good points to church history but these have largely been overrun by humanities need for boundaries and creation of “otherness”. this is true not only in religion but governments, and any other human system invented. we take note of these as we think and consider.. but no matter what your preliminary conclusion is, it’s best to know these mistakes of the past so we do not repeat them as we venture forth.

  • 71. Luke  |  March 17, 2009 at 2:31 pm

    what makes me think i can? i can’t! but together, we as a corporate entity can!

    yes, we can love our neighbor as ourselves whether that neighbor is muslim, black, hispanic, male or female or other, LGBTQ, athiest, fundie christian, or confused human.

    yes we can forge a better way of life to the harmony of all.

    yes we can make a new community where ideas and thoughts are exchanged, tried out, and discussed.

    yes we can make the world a better, less violent place.

    okay.. soap box and channeling obama has ended.. thoughts?

  • 72. LeoPardus  |  March 17, 2009 at 2:38 pm

    i’m going into ministry to find a new way. Christianity is not a failed enterprise, but an untried one!

    Do you have any idea how often people have said things like this. What amazes me is the arrogance. “For 2000 years no one has figured it out quite right. But NOW, I AM HERE!”

    okay.. soap box and channeling obama has ended.. thoughts?

    Glad it’s ended. Now maybe you can try reality.

    Make yourself the kind of person others might want to be. Then maybe, just maybe mind you, folks might actually follow. Set out to lead and you’ll either fail or get trapped.

  • 73. Erudite Redneck  |  March 17, 2009 at 2:45 pm

    Re, “Do you have any idea how often people have said things like this. What amazes me is the arrogance. “For 2000 years no one has figured it out quite right. But NOW, I AM HERE!”

    Well, I think that was a little harsh. And I also think it’s pretty clear that there always have been a few peeps who have looked around at the mess and bullshit of the organized church and said, “Good God, some of us surely can get this right.”

    If that’s arrogance on my part, and Luke’s part, then so be it. I’ll take that rather than throw the Jesus out with the bathwater.

  • 74. Luke  |  March 17, 2009 at 2:56 pm

    i do not mean for it to be arrogant. hard to explain on here. the point though is i don’t want people to follow me! i want to walk side-by-side with people. like how you called me out on being arrogant! like i call you out for having no hope! side by side there’s gotta be a way to get to something better. no use complaining about it, right?

  • 75. orDover  |  March 17, 2009 at 3:07 pm

    yes, we can love our neighbor as ourselves whether that neighbor is muslim, black, hispanic, male or female or other, LGBTQ, athiest, fundie christian, or confused human.

    … thoughts?

    I think the notion of total neighborly love is completely incompatible with Christian doctrine. If Christ truly is THE Way, and not A Way, then you’ve already begun to establish an us-vs.-them attitude or an attitude of patronism. You can never be completely accepting and completely loving of your brother if you think:
    1. You know what is right, both in the moral sense and in the larger sense of Truth with a capital T, and he doesn’t
    2. You will be rewarded in the afterlife for your beliefs and he won’t (he might even be punished)
    3. You are “saved” and he is not
    4. His beliefs and creeds are not as valid as yours

    I understand that you liberal Christians are not big on Biblical literalism, but it seems an unshakable doctrine of the faith that there is only one God, one way to salvation, and one true religion. You can claim otherwise, but I would join the crowd of fundies saying that you aren’t a “real Christian.” Even if you say you are just a “follower of the teachings of Christ” and not a Christian in the catholic sense of the word, I still don’t see how you can get around the “I am THE Way” issue.

  • 76. LeoPardus  |  March 17, 2009 at 3:07 pm

    I’m increasingly coming close to agreeing with Émile Zola.
    “Civilization will not attain perfection until the last stone from the last church falls on the last priest.”

    Of course I am quite sure that civilization will never obtain perfection. But religion has done much to impeded development and progress.

    Someone said that one sort of insanity is to keep trying the same thing over and over, expecting a different result. Jesus/Christianity has been tried over and over for 2000 years. A sane assessment would be to conclude that it doesn’t work. But that won’t stop people from continuing to try it, expecting a different result.

    Feel free to try. Now let me return to my office of prophet…. Prediction: It still won’t work.

  • 77. orDover  |  March 17, 2009 at 3:11 pm

    And I also think it’s pretty clear that there always have been a few peeps who have looked around at the mess and bullshit of the organized church and said, “Good God, some of us surely can get this right.”

    That attitude, however, is ignoring what Josh mentioned above, that the Holy Spirit is supposed to be mediating spiritual experience. The Holy Spirit should be leading believers to accurately understand the Bible. The Holy Spirit should be leading souls to unite the churches. The Holy Spirit is supposed to be the entity that makes it right. If the Spirit of God can’t unify church doctrines and inspire true brotherly love, why should you be able to?

  • 78. Luke  |  March 17, 2009 at 3:33 pm

    “I think the notion of total neighborly love is completely incompatible with Christian doctrine.”

    yet that is Christ’s way, ergo i’m in the way. love of God, neighbor, and self. if you’re doing the neighbor and self part, you’re loving God whether or not you believe in God. God exists, in my book, regardless of belief. if you engage in love of neighbor and self you’re on the WAY. that’s how i “get around it”.

    so that doesn’t make me a Christian in the traditional sense? not really. Just read Erasmus or John Calvin. yes Calvin! Scholarship on Calvin shows a more pastoral, less TULIP-y guy.. check out THL Parker’s book, Denis Janz, or William Bouwsma. I think y’all would eat up Erasmus’ “In Praise of Folly”

    now as for Leo P’s comment of “Now let me return to my office of prophet” here’s the thing about prophets. they DO something. not just naysay and run away. they try a new thing.

    now i haven’t been on here to know what type of social justice activities y’all are engaged in, what social groups you all attend, what spheres on influence you all run in, or how you put your beliefs into practice. i’m trying to articulate mine and yet i’m ment with the fundie-box every time i turn around. no room for self-definition. i’m a Christian, just not in away that’s easily recognizable or even understandable to your past experiences. i’m not the only one… we have Arch Chuck, SVS, John T, ER, in this blog alone as well as the heavy weights of Rob Bell, Brian McLaren, Bruce Epperly, Greg Carey, Julia O’Brian, Walter Brueggemann and Ron Allen. historically there’s the Iona Community, the Taize Community, the bretheran, the humanists, existentialists, and neo-orthodox.

    as Kierkegaard said “the task must be made difficult, for only the difficult inspires the noble-hearted”

  • 79. LeoPardus  |  March 17, 2009 at 4:19 pm

    i’m a Christian, just not in away that’s easily recognizable or even understandable to your past experiences.

    Hmmm… OK. Here are some questions by way of trying to get some grip on what y’all bring to the table. (I start off assuming that you all believe in a deity.)
    -Do you believe there is a deity that is directly concerned with individual lives of humans?
    -Do you believe this deity deliberately and directly affects events here on Earth?
    -Do you believe this deity hears prayers from individuals or groups of humans? … and does he respond to them at least sometimes?
    -Do you believe this deity has standards of conduct which he desires us to follow?
    -Do you believe this deity in some way affects humans so as to change their attitudes and/or behaviors, particularly in regards to making them better at following his standards?
    -Do you believe this deity has revealed his nature, desires, etc to us humans in a way that we can discern? If yes, what is that way/revelation?

  • 80. Joshua  |  March 17, 2009 at 4:21 pm

    “the task must be made difficult, for only the difficult inspires the noble-hearted”

    But unless one simplifies, they cannot truly accomplish.

    Simplify. God does not exist.

    *poof*

    Every theological problem solved instantly.

    What success! Now there’s a true prophet for ya! Not only does he attempt change, he solves all the problems!

  • 81. Luke  |  March 17, 2009 at 4:56 pm

    well to get that, you’d have to read my blog, Leo. but here is the elevator version:

    -On 1st 3: the universe is an open and flexible system where patterns can be seen to exist, but where the providential aspect cannot be ruled out.

    on last 3: this is not a systematic nor metaphysical approach, it’s a pastoral one, a practical theoligical one. it only makes sense in living and not really on paper. it juxaposes themes and leaves them be, hold together concepts in dialectical tension. we get revelation through scripture, yet seeing that the bible CONTAINS the revelation of God. we have to live our lives forward and can only understand things backwards. just like Exodus 17, we will see where God was! revelation are those aha! moments that stem from learning, connecting events in your history, and those moments of awe and wonder. this comes from a variety of experiences, but the key is experience! it’s felt and it connects us to something beyond ourselves, our group, and our familar circle and stomping grounds.

    it’s knowing when to act, and when not to. when to speak, and when to be silent. all the while going on the principle of love of God, neighbor and self. preferential treatment of the poor and oppressed. the life of Jesus, as metaphorically and inaccurately recorded in the gospels, is the best way of living this life, that’s what makes him 100% human and divine was his radically open life. there have been others that have followed in Christ’s footsteps but he is the archetype, the inspiration and the living Word, still relevent today.

    concluding thought: Theologians have a great problem because they’re seeking to speak about God. Since God is the ground of everything that is, there’s a sense in which every human inquiry is grist to the theological mill. Obviously, no theologian or person can know everything. that’s my short take on it. problems with it, you bet! but everything in my book is unfinished and in process.

  • 82. Luke  |  March 17, 2009 at 4:58 pm

    Joshua,

    haha! yeah, well for me that causes more problems than i solves. i’m hoping for more, that all the pain and suffering and joy and love mean something. in an infinite universe where we only get a fraction of it, i have hope that we continue in some form and that there is some way to live that reduces suffering and produces love.

  • 83. LeoPardus  |  March 17, 2009 at 5:43 pm

    Post #80:

    Bravo! For that brief dissertation alone, you should get a Th.D. :)

  • 84. LeoPardus  |  March 18, 2009 at 10:46 am

    Luke:

    Hmm… you belief system is so vague I can’t even see why one would bother. Or why one would think the bible has any relevance. Why not use the Koran, Tao-te-ching, Analects, etc? In fact your system has enough in common with Taoism, it seems like that would be one religion you’d use. (Maybe you do)

    So, in all frankness, why do you bother attaching a “god label” to it all? Why not just say, “Let’s work on being decent folk.” and leave the nebulous stuff out?

  • 85. Luke  |  March 18, 2009 at 10:17 pm

    the thing is.. it’s not a system. and yes it’s influenced by the Tao. why the God label? cause i believe in a nebulous and unclear God.

    i love how y’all gripe about being misunderstood and wish to be back in community or miss aspects of the faith, but judge’n by the responce, you’re just the other side of the fundie coin. judgemental, literal, and quick to name call… only instead of citing Jesus you cite Reason. and just like the fundie folk, it must be your version of reason.

    i do just say “let’s work on being decent folk” most sundays only i do it through shared stories that reflect lived experience today. stories are important. history is important. i also believe it’s important to realize that we’re not the center of the universe and yet remind people not to give up hope.

    peace.

  • 86. Joshua  |  March 19, 2009 at 12:16 am

    Hmmm, Luke you have a point.

    I’m curious, though as to how much truth plays into your outlook?

    If it is true that there is no God, I would assume that it would be in our best interest to not believe in one. So it would make sense to nail that question pretty early on before one spends a lot of time developing a theology.

    Perhaps that’s a bad assumption?

  • 87. TitforTat  |  March 19, 2009 at 7:01 am

    Joshua

    Does belief in a Creator mean you have to develop a Theology?

  • 88. SnugglyBuffalo  |  March 19, 2009 at 10:42 am

    Isn’t a belief in the existence of a deity a theology itself, technically speaking?

  • 89. Tit for Tat  |  March 19, 2009 at 11:26 am

    Snuggly

    Whats the difference between believing the Big Bang and believing in a Creator?

  • 90. Joshua  |  March 19, 2009 at 11:34 am

    “Isn’t a belief in the existence of a deity a theology itself, technically speaking?”

    Well, I don’t know. I tend to not think so. Theology to me has to do with predicting things about God’s interaction with mankind – or with individuals.

  • 91. Joshua  |  March 19, 2009 at 11:34 am

    “Does belief in a Creator mean you have to develop a Theology?”

    No, not necessarily :)

  • 92. Not a Church Goer anymore  |  March 19, 2009 at 11:43 am

    Josh, I would think so based on the definition of theology and the aspect that someone or something greater than humanity created us. Don’t have to connect a so called intelligent being “God” to any particular religion, but a Theology is still developed based on the the association of an entity greater than humanity or creating humanity.

  • 93. SnugglyBuffalo  |  March 19, 2009 at 11:45 am

    Like I said, “technically speaking.” I couldn’t say if the existence of a deity would normally qualify as theology, but it certainly seems to fit the literal definition, if not the more nuanced meaning. I’m not trying to be rhetorical here with my question above. I’m genuinely curious as to how others perceive “theology.”

    Whats the difference between believing the Big Bang and believing in a Creator?

    Evidence? I’m not an astronomer or physicist, but my understanding is that there’s a lot of support out there for some kind of big-bang-like event in our incredibly distant past. Additionally, people are willing to change or abandon their view on the Big Bang in light of new evidence.

    I’m not really sure what this question has to do with the matter at hand, though…

  • 94. Joshua  |  March 19, 2009 at 11:54 am

    Here is how I view it:

    Deism: belief in an impersonal and incomprehensible deity.

    Theism: belief in a personal and somewhat comprehensible deity.

    Theology is the study of God. One cannot study something unless they have data to study. And as soon as someone believes they have data on God, they are believing in some form of revelation. And a deity would not reveal something about itself to man unless that deity had some reason to do so. A revealed deity has personal interaction with man….

    And let the slippery slope begin!

  • 95. orDover  |  March 19, 2009 at 12:48 pm

    i love how y’all gripe about being misunderstood and wish to be back in community or miss aspects of the faith, but judge’n by the responce, you’re just the other side of the fundie coin. judgemental, literal, and quick to name call… only instead of citing Jesus you cite Reason. and just like the fundie folk, it must be your version of reason.

    I think this is an unfair accusation. I don’t see anywhere here where anyone has called you names or acted judgmentally. In fact, many have gone out of their way to ask you explain yourself in detail in order to better understand your position and opinions. Most of us here are not deists, so no matter what you say we are going to disagree, but disagreeing or giving our opinion regarding your belief system is not tantamount to any of things you accuse us of.

    I’ve seen people here engage you, say you make good points, ask you detailed questions, and comment intelligently on your posts. If we were being dismissive or judgmental, that would not have happened. We have been critical, but you must remember the nature of this site and not take it personally.

    To be honest, I find it interesting that after several days of back-and-forth between you and the de-cons, when you’ve failed to convince anyone of your ideas you jump to the, “You’re being unfair to me, you’re a fundamentalists” defense. That amounts to nothing more than an ad hominem attack. Instead of further engaging us when your concept of God is challenged, you retreat to a logical fallacy. You say you believe in an unclear God. You’ve said several times you believe in God, and the general questions being put to you, which I have yet to see you answer (though I could have missed it) are simple and few: Why do you believe in the Christian God over another religion? What evidences do you have for believing in God? You’ve thrown out a few concepts like Aquinas’ Prime Mover argument, but most of us here are looking for physical evidence not philosophical musings.

  • 96. orDover  |  March 19, 2009 at 12:49 pm

    Whats the difference between believing the Big Bang and believing in a Creator?

    Aside from the evidence mentioned, there’s also a big difference in the fact that one of them requires a supernatural entity and one does not.

  • 97. LeoPardus  |  March 19, 2009 at 12:56 pm

    Whats the difference between believing the Big Bang and believing in a Creator?

    In some ways there are similarities. Neither can be thoroughly verified or falsified. Both involve a fair deal of conjecture. To some extent, belief in both depends on certain pressuppositions and interpretation of certain facts, theories, or ideas.

    In other ways they are different. Mathematical models can be developed for the Big Bang. It is possible to physically investigate the validity of some of those model predictions. Also, those models start from established physical discoveries. By contrast, no mathematical models can be made for a deity, no physical investigations are really possible, and the presuppositions for theism/deism don’t depend on any physical realities.

    That said, anyone who gets dogmatic about the Big Bang (“This Big Bang IS how it all started.”) is crossing the line just as much as dogmatic religionists. We think the BB is how things started; certain facts correspond to the model; but there are huge holes in our knowledge.

  • 98. Tit for Tat  |  March 19, 2009 at 1:26 pm

    and the presuppositions for theism/deism don’t depend on any physical realities.(Leopardus)

    Well I do base my belief on one physical reality. Im here and something started that process off. Thanks for your response though, very well said.

  • 99. Tit for Tat  |  March 19, 2009 at 1:32 pm

    but a Theology is still developed based on the the association of an entity greater than humanity or creating humanity.(NACGA)

    Not necessarily, afterall a baby has the potential to have the intelligence of its creator(parent)_. So in theory we possess the same as whatever it is that created us. And because I have some level of intelligence, is it not reasonable to assume from wherever I came there is intelligence also?

  • 100. SnugglyBuffalo  |  March 19, 2009 at 1:39 pm

    And because I have some level of intelligence, is it not reasonable to assume from wherever I came there is intelligence also?

    I don’t think that’s a reasonable assumption at all. You’re jumping to a conclusion with no actual support. I have blue eyes, is it reasonable to assume that “wherever I came from” there is blue eyes also?

  • 101. TitforTat  |  March 19, 2009 at 1:57 pm

    have blue eyes, is it reasonable to assume that “wherever I came from” there is blue eyes also?(Snuggly)

    Actually at one point, genetically speaking that is a good assumption.

  • 102. orDover  |  March 19, 2009 at 2:10 pm

    And because I have some level of intelligence, is it not reasonable to assume from wherever I came there is intelligence also?

    That might make sense if every organism on earth had relatively the same level of intelligence, but it ignores the fact that intelligence exists in nature along a continuum and is clearly shown through evidence to be an effect of the evolution of the brain.

  • 103. Not a Church Goer anymore  |  March 19, 2009 at 3:05 pm

    Tit for Tat, I see what you’re saying from a natural point of view,where the cycle of life is in effect; one is born from their parents, inherit thier DNA, grow, live, then die but I’m speaking from a “Supernatural” so to speak standpoint in which a creator or intelligent being created the universe and everything in it,including us. I don’t know if we can tie what happens naturally to what we’re discussing in reference to a diety At this point. If that theory is indeed true and we were created by an intelligent being, one of two things are possible; we either have the potential to one day be as smart as our creator and learn how to create universes and all manner of life within it, or we’ll evolve naturally continuing the natural cycle of birth and death. Either way your reason of potentially being like your creater (parent) is like trying to mix water and oil.

  • 104. SnugglyBuffalo  |  March 19, 2009 at 3:14 pm

    Genetically speaking, sure, but we’re talking about deities and creation here.

    There’s absolutely no reason to assume that intelligent beings were created by an intelligent being, as opposed to some mindless creative force (all this assuming that there even is a creator).

  • 105. Joshua  |  March 19, 2009 at 3:53 pm

    ALL intelligence as we experience it involves the interaction of electrons between complex neurons within time.

    So unless one’s deity also has neurons and electrons flowing within time… I don’t see how we can presume we were created by an intelligent being.

  • 106. LeoPardus  |  March 19, 2009 at 4:37 pm

    So unless one’s deity also has neurons and electrons flowing within time

    Nope. My deity would be much cooler than that. He would have instantaneous signaling over any distance because his neuronal firing would be carried out by quantum entangled electrons. :D

  • 107. Joshua  |  March 19, 2009 at 4:47 pm

    “by quantum entangled electrons.”

    Damn. Now THAT’s theology!

  • 108. GaryC  |  March 19, 2009 at 5:42 pm

    My deity would be much cooler than that. He would have instantaneous signaling over any distance because his neuronal firing would be carried out by quantum entangled electrons.

    Holy spukhafte Fernwirkung, Batman!

  • 109. TitforTat  |  March 19, 2009 at 10:41 pm

    Ok………because our vocabulary is limited in this regard. …..Who is saying creator means deity, or for that matter a being? My attempt, however limited, is saying that maybe there is an intelligence behind the starting point of the world as we see it. The truth is we all are limited in our understanding of our existence. My question is., ” Is it logical and reasonable to think that there is no intelligent starting point of our existence as we see it?” In other words, is it reasonable to think that this is all just a fluke? Im not suggesting G-d in a religious sense, but I am suggesting a Creator in a practical sense.

  • 110. orDover  |  March 19, 2009 at 10:57 pm

    What is the difference between some unknown intelligent force and a being or God, practically speaking? Can any of these things be tested for scientifically? Do we have any evidence to support their existence or role in the formation of the universe?

    Is it logical and reasonable to think that there is no intelligent starting point of our existence as we see it?

    Yes. Is it logical to think otherwise?

  • 111. TitforTat  |  March 19, 2009 at 11:57 pm

    Yes. Is it logical to think otherwise?(orDover)

    So, correct me if Im wrong. Youre saying its logical to think its just a fluke(as in no intelligence) that we have life, and its not logical to think there could be some intelligence behind it?

  • 112. Erudite Redneck  |  March 20, 2009 at 8:04 am

    Re, “Can any of these things be tested for scientifically?”

    Why must this be the only standard by which evidence is considered? Honest question.

  • 113. BigHouse  |  March 20, 2009 at 8:36 am

    Re, “Can any of these things be tested for scientifically?”

    Why must this be the only standard by which evidence is considered? Honest question.

    What other standard would you apply?

  • 114. Tit for Tat  |  March 20, 2009 at 10:11 am

    Bighouse

    Another question could be posed too. Even if it cant be proved scientifically. “Is it logical to assume the possibility of intelligence behind the origins of the universe as we know it?”
    What would your answer be?

  • 115. BigHouse  |  March 20, 2009 at 10:21 am

    “Is it logical to assume the possibility of intelligence behind the origins of the universe as we know it?”

    Sure, the POSSIBILITY is logical to posit; I just don’t think it’s NECESSARY or REQUIRED. To assume those latter to me isn’t logical.

  • 116. Tit for Tat  |  March 20, 2009 at 10:35 am

    My position isnt whether or not its necessary or required. Its just to show that its not illogical to make that assessment. The illogical part comes when you think you know what it could be.

  • 117. BigHouse  |  March 20, 2009 at 10:48 am

    Then I would agree with you; is not illogical to assess that it is possible that there is an intelligence behind the creation of the universe.

    But many take it a step further and say that the evidence “demands the verdict” that intellignece HAD TO have been responsiblie, given the nature of our universe. That to me is illogical.

  • 118. Not a Church Goer anymore  |  March 20, 2009 at 11:05 am

    BigHouse, I agree with you on that intelligence HAD TO have been responsible, as an illogical statement, but given the calculated aspect of the universe, I see why many go that extra step. Looking at Earth for example and all its processes, i.e. climate, plants, oceans, etc mathamatically speaking, its damn near too perfect to be a fluke…the Earth being the perfect distance from the sun, not to burn or freeze. How everything natural on Eath with the exception of Humans work together for a common purpose. Illogical to say that it had to be an intelligence, but not illogicial to see why many say it had to be an intelligence.

  • 119. BigHouse  |  March 20, 2009 at 11:13 am

    Looking at Earth for example

    This is the trouble with this type of analysis. The earth is one planet in a vast universe which is billions of years old. It isn’t a one-shot deal, it is one of an almost infinite outcomes in the universe. The odds that it would support life like it doesn doesn’t look so crazy against the backdrop of all the “trials” in the universe.

  • 120. Not a Church Goer anymore  |  March 20, 2009 at 11:26 am

    Point taken…

  • 121. Luke  |  March 20, 2009 at 11:29 am

    OrDover,

    i’ve been pondering this thread for a while, trying to get at the deeper issue… what i think we’re dealing with is the question of “how we know what we know” and “how we interpret what we see”. this can be explained in the myers-briggs idea of the S vs. the N types.

    Sensing personalities need evidence before they come to a conclusion. it’s like “tree, tree, tree… ummm… we’re in a forest!” to put it simply.

    Intuitive personalities just know things. it’s like “wow what a great forest!” before the blindfold is taken off.

    i think it would be interesting to see if N’s have a higher rate of believe’n in a deity than S types. when people say “what evidence can you give…” my answer is entirely subjective, personal, and experiential. i’ve never NOT believed. i’ve always felt that there was something else out there.. a higher plain. i can tap into it in a variety of ways, through prayer, sports.. or just anywhere.

    for example: basketball. there are a few times i can point to when i was playing and i just knew what was going to happen, where the defense was going to be, how i was going to score, where the pass needed to be. i tapped into the math and physics of the game. it is entirely natural yet there’s an element of supernatural as well.

    i get this on a daily basis. a deja vu or a moment where i know how things are going to work out. sounds strange, but i can only describe these experiences as coming from somewhere outside myself. that’s my evidence for God.

    as for why i follow the christian God and Jesus and not Tao or any other religion… it’s a view of God i jive with, justice being restoritive and not retributive. that Jesus throws the covers off human behavior of the myth of retributive violence and our scapegoat mechanism.

    did i get defensive? you bet! but read #75 and see what assumptions are at play there. there are many ways of being christian.. i’ll post them up on my blog and explain how the emergent style is different. it’s postmodern, transrational, and takes a more relational style of knowing.

  • 122. Tit for Tat  |  March 20, 2009 at 11:31 am

    BIghouse

    But given the nature of the universe, doesnt it seem more logical to think that there is intelligence and more illogical to think that its a fluke? The thing is, its not just our relation to the sun or moon or planets that give us life. As we are slowly discovering theres a good chance that other aspects of the universe have to “line” up for that possibility. My brain just thinks its way to complicated to not have some type of intelligence behind it. With that said, how I apply my thoughts on “faith” is completely different than any of the theologies out there. Though I do incorporate many of their ideas. The unfortunate thing is that most of the richness that comes from the different faiths is lost because of the absolutism of their dogmas. And that is the sad part.

  • 123. BigHouse  |  March 20, 2009 at 11:42 am

    ,i>My brain just thinks its way to complicated to not have some type of intelligence behind it.

    No personal offense meant but not all brains can contemplate this stuff equally. There are things I find complicated that smarter people can comprehend and find logical. It doesn’t mean that my incomprehension is equal “evidence”.

  • 124. Not a Church Goer anymore  |  March 20, 2009 at 11:54 am

    Luke, the mind is a very powerful element, and little is known as far as a scientific absolute is concerned, so precognizants, clairvoyants may not necessarily have to be evidence for a God…we have powerful minds and we’re the only spiecies on Earth able to adapt or operate in every type of enviornment i.e the oceans and space due to our intellegents or powerful minds. When you say their are many different ways to be a Christian, I disagree, because if you compare the teaching of Budah who was teaching some 500 hundered years before Christ, they basically taught the same stuff. Christianity is enveloped in its Dogma, your’re either Christian or your not, you either follow all the teachings of Christ or you don’t, yes the bible may throw out some grey area in the faith, but your average fundie will tell you different. Rember what the book of revelations said about luke warm Christians!!! That’s why religions a FARCE, and cancer of humanity. In my opinion, when humanity as a whole stop beliveing in the ancient mindsets of ancient man, the world will become a whole lot better place.

  • 125. Tit for Tat  |  March 20, 2009 at 12:00 pm

    No offense taken, I would point out to you though, I feel more than adequate to be able to contemplate the logic. I do leave room for the people who will help me understand the mechanisms of the universe. Seeing as they dont quite understand all of it either, lets just all enjoy the mystery while we figure it out. ;)

  • 126. Luke  |  March 20, 2009 at 12:06 pm

    there is more than one way of being Buddhist and there’s more than one way of being Christian. Each denomination puts a different focus on the scriptures and teachings..

    http://toothface.blogspot.com/2009/03/historical-ways-of-being-christian.html

    Niceren is different from Zen which is different from Theravaden just as being a Baptist is not like a Methodist, which is not like a Catholic. sure there are some cross overs but the focus is different.

    interpretation is key here. is there just one way to read something? if we all watched Fight Club or Donnie Darko, would we all walk away with the exact same experience of the movie? no! our prior experiences and current context are different and thus cause us to pick up on different themes and scenes.

  • 127. orDover  |  March 20, 2009 at 12:47 pm

    Titfortat,

    Youre saying its logical to think its just a fluke(as in no intelligence) that we have life, and its not logical to think there could be some intelligence behind it?

    Yes. I think it is illogical to assume or even posit that there is intelligence behind the formation of the universe for a few reasons: 1. It is completely superfluous. 2. No evidence points in that direction. 3. I’ve yet to hear a well-reason argument for why a creator or intelligent force is a likely reality.

    Luke,

    I appreciate your response and its honestly, but I don’t give any regard to the idea of intuition or clairvoyance. Psychic abilities have been tested again and again under laboratory conditions and never fair any better than if the subjects were merely guessing. Our brains are programmed to “predict” what will happen in the near future. That’s the reason we are able to catch a fly ball in the outfield, or judge what the opponent is likely to do in a basketball game. Sometimes we are right, those are the hits, and sometimes we are wrong, those are the misses. But we only remember the hits, the times that our brain guessed correctly and really surprised us with its accuracy in predicting future situations.

    If you want to use something like deja vu or premonitions or whatever else as your personal evidence for God, that is just fine, and again I appreciate your honesty, but I reject those same phenomena (yes, we all experience them) because I know they have natural explanations, and do not come from outside ourselves.

  • 128. Luke  |  March 20, 2009 at 1:06 pm

    OrDover,

    of course you don’t give any regard, you must be an S ;-)

  • 129. SnugglyBuffalo  |  March 20, 2009 at 1:28 pm

    Even ignoring the whole intuition and clairvoyance thing, I’d bet there’s a lot of subconscious activity going on as well to explain it. Studies have shown that we make decisions something like 7 or 9 seconds before we consciously realize it.

    There’s nothing supernatural going on in your basketball games. Just the amazing abilities of the subconscious mind. To compare it to game theory, you know the game well and can prune unlikely outcomes easily. You’re able to narrow it down to the most likely outcomes, and then act on this knowledge. And very much of this is going on in your mind without you even consciously realizing it.

  • 130. Joshua  |  March 20, 2009 at 2:25 pm

    I haven’t read all of the comments (but plan to).

    A thought just occurred to me.

    If an intelligent being created the universe, then it created the potential for a whole host of created intelligent beings who would invent a whole host of misconceptions about this creator.

    And apparently this intelligent being did not have a problem with this. If it did, it would make a proper understanding about itself clear enough that all men of all ages would have equal access to this information.

    So if 99.9999% of men’s conceptions about this intelligent source / creator of the universe are false or wrong and this being has no problem with it, then what makes anyone think they can figure out the truth about this being (if it exists)?

    Any takers?

  • 131. Joshua  |  March 20, 2009 at 2:26 pm

    I mean, after thousands of years this being still has not made itself known. So why keep trying? Why? What’s the point? Everyone else got along “fine” without a proper understanding, so what’s the point of gaining a proper understanding now? How the heck would it help us in any way?

  • 132. Joshua  |  March 20, 2009 at 2:31 pm

    Lets say you had to bet all your money either toward A) a better understanding of the universe through science B) a better understanding of the creator of the universe.

    Given the track record of the two pursuits, which is the wiser investment?

  • 133. Luke  |  March 20, 2009 at 2:40 pm

    SnugglyBuff,

    the books Blink by Malcom Gladwell and I am A Strange Loop by Douglas Hofstadter cover what you’re talking about. these two books ignore the theological questions, and that’s fine, they’re scientists, they look at empirical evidence.

    what i chafe at are dogmatic statements. saying “God is only like this! only conceivable in this frame!” to the other extreme “There is no God”. i don’t like either one of these choices. i’m skeptical about either of these extremes.

    in Joshua’s comment in #132.. it’s either science or religion… which is the wiser? why not both? i recognize the limits of human knowledge. science is a process yet is there a way we could have a marriage between the two? every Sunday people would gather in places and someone would talk about how science can be applied to your life. we have that place.. it’s called church! imagine the reform that could be possible using an already establish institution to make not an either/or choice but a both/and for the betterment of humanity.

  • 134. Joshua  |  March 20, 2009 at 2:44 pm

    “why not both?”

    Because one keeps succeeding and the other never does.

  • 135. Luke  |  March 20, 2009 at 2:50 pm

    yet the institution remains and it goes out and feeds the hungry, comforts the sick and afflicted, and establishes community. i’d say that’s succeeding.

    i subscribe to Seed and i haven’t yet felt the need to change any behavior or to take care of the least of these because of anything in science. i did feel the need to run out and buy Spore, but that quickly passed.

  • 136. Joshua  |  March 20, 2009 at 2:50 pm

    “imagine the reform that could be possible using an already establish institution to make not an either/or choice but a both/and for the betterment of humanity.”

    I actually would hope this would be possible. Maybe it is? I just don’t think so. The problem is that any church leader who questions any established dogma will be rejected by a portion of the institution as a heretic. When – and if – the institution modernizes, people will then just split and create their own new church standing up for the “truth” of orthodoxy. It happens over and over again.

    I guess something could be said for *slow* change instead of sudden change.

  • 137. Joshua  |  March 20, 2009 at 2:52 pm

    “yet the institution remains and it goes out and feeds the hungry, comforts the sick and afflicted, and establishes community. i’d say that’s succeeding.”

    That’s just the success of human kindness in my mind :) Plenty of people do that stuff without any religious inclination or church affiliation.

    Although… you do have a point… I’ll have to think about this…

  • 138. Luke  |  March 20, 2009 at 3:36 pm

    Joshua,

    i hope this will be possible too, that’s why i’m doing what i’m doing. slow change is the only way to go. and the rejected part of heretic… i find that interesting. i’ve found this whole website full of prophets and smart people rejected by institutions and that just sucks. Whoa to you Israel, is there one prophet you can name that you haven’t persecuted? isn’t it funny that we kill prophets like John Huss, MLK Jr, Milk, Malcom X, and others only to build statues of the later.

    thanks for thinking.. y’all keep give’n me stuff to ponder, glad i can reciprocate.

  • 139. Tit for Tat  |  March 20, 2009 at 3:53 pm

    Yes. I think it is illogical to assume or even posit that there is intelligence behind the formation of the universe for a few reasons:(orDover)

    And here we have it, you think Im illogical, and I think you are illogical. Hmmm will we ever find out who’s right? LOL. ;)

  • 140. SnugglyBuffalo  |  March 20, 2009 at 4:01 pm

    Religion certainly succeeds at feeding the hungry, comforting the sick and afflicted, and establishing community (and while it succeeds at these things, it is not necessary for them). But it fails utterly at increasing our knowledge or advancing our society. Science is what has allowed our species to move forward from agrarian societies to what we have today. Without science our quality of life would be drastically lower than it is today. Without religion… I can’t really think of any real negatives, there.

  • 141. Tit for Tat  |  March 20, 2009 at 4:04 pm

    Lets say you had to bet all your money either toward A) a better understanding of the universe through science B) a better understanding of the creator of the universe.

    Given the track record of the two pursuits, which is the wiser investment?(Joshua)

    Im betting A brings me closer to B. So its like having a two headed coin, I keep flipping and it come up heads.

    I will reiterate, does a creative intelligence have to be a being? I think your disagreement is with the religious take, not one of intelligence behind the creation.

  • 142. Joshua  |  March 20, 2009 at 4:16 pm

    “I think your disagreement is with the religious take, not one of intelligence behind the creation.”

    My disagreement is with the concept of intelligence itself. Is this not anthropomorphizing the “cause” of the universe?

  • 143. Joshua  |  March 20, 2009 at 4:18 pm

    “And here we have it, you think Im illogical, and I think you are illogical. Hmmm will we ever find out who’s right? LOL.”

    Too bad we don’t have a deity to settle these disputes!

    I’m all down with a Mario Kart Wii match. Sure beats wars or burning people at the stake! Anyone?

  • 144. orDover  |  March 20, 2009 at 4:25 pm

    Um. I’m frickin’ awesome at Mario Kart Wii. I beat all of my little sisters at it every time.

  • 145. Joshua  |  March 20, 2009 at 4:54 pm

    “Um. I’m frickin’ awesome at Mario Kart Wii. I beat all of my little sisters at it every time.”

    Damn straight! Sad (?) thing is that we agree with each other on almost everything already so there’s nothing to resolve! Doh.

  • 146. Tit for Tat  |  March 20, 2009 at 5:04 pm

    Is this not anthropomorphizing the “cause” of the universe?(Josua)

    If we are to continue to try and understand the makings of our world, do we not need to use intelligence? So with that said, my first question is why and where does my intelligence come from? I know many on here will say it evolved. So I would then say why and how…………and the cycle begins lol. ;)

  • 147. Luke  |  March 20, 2009 at 5:20 pm

    ” But it fails utterly at increasing our knowledge or advancing our society.”

    that maybe true now.. but not back in the day. that’s how we got unified language b/c of the german and english translations of the bible (Geneva Bible and King James). like T4T said, i’ll take both!

    i do alright on Mario Kart, but how about Madden 09? PS3 style or we could go Far Cry 2. yay videogames! woot!

  • 148. Tit for Tat  |  March 20, 2009 at 5:39 pm

    Damn you guys, I might be able to whoop you at Space Invaders. Thats if you even know what that is lol.

  • 149. Joshua  |  March 20, 2009 at 6:20 pm

    Far Cry 2!

  • 150. Joshua  |  March 20, 2009 at 6:26 pm

    “So I would then say why and how”

    We know how. We do not know why. And I personally think asking why is almost a non-question.

    Why assumes purpose, and the only things which can have purpose are those things which exist inside time… so… I hope you can see my dilemma with this question.

  • 151. Tit for Tat  |  March 20, 2009 at 6:50 pm

    We know how.(Joshua)

    Well, Im not so sure if we totally know how. You would have to explain that one to me.

    Why assumes purpose, and the only things which can have purpose are those things which exist inside time…(Joshua)

    Well I guess when either you or I exist outside of time we can drop that question. ;)

  • 152. Erudite Redneck  |  March 20, 2009 at 8:42 pm

    Plowing through the forest of comments. But, re: “yes the bible may throw out some grey area in the faith,
    but your average fundie will tell you different …”

    The average fundie is an idolator, twice: worshiping the Bible, and his-her own “wisdom.” IMHO.

  • 153. Joshua  |  March 21, 2009 at 2:05 am

    “The average fundie is an idolator, twice: worshiping the Bible, and his-her own “wisdom.” IMHO.”

    Ahh, the old “I’m not like THEM” trick.

  • 154. Erudite Redneck  |  March 21, 2009 at 10:13 am

    Re, “Ahh, the old “I’m not like THEM” trick.”

    WTH is that supposed to mean? Bring it on. I thought y’all liked to think rather than stereotype. But maybe it’s a stereotype that the deconverted thought their way out of faith.

    Trick, my ass. Listen, you don’t put me in a box, and I’ll try my damndest not to put you in one.

  • 155. Erudite Redneck  |  March 21, 2009 at 10:14 am

    The church clearly does not have the markret cornered on smartassery, narrow-mindedness and kneejerk labeling..

  • 156. Joshua  |  March 21, 2009 at 1:30 pm

    “WTH is that supposed to mean?”

    Calm down, that was said in a slightly jovial fashion and was not meant to provoke. I’m sorry.

    I can understand your frustration at fundamentalism, but I do not understand how making a moral judgment of their behavior is helping anyone. Especially when they could make the exact same accusation against any of us and say we are just trusting our own “wisdom.”

    Make sense?

  • 157. Erudite Redneck  |  March 21, 2009 at 1:45 pm

    Yes, and I’m sorry for overreacting to obvious ribbing. Not enough coffee at the point! :-)

    And yer right about the wisdom part. What gets me as a Christian is what I consider the idolatry involving the Bible — and religion itself. The Bible is not the Word; it gives glimpses of the Word. Religion is not God. Etc. etc.

  • 158. Joshua  |  March 21, 2009 at 1:52 pm

    “What gets me as a Christian is what I consider the idolatry involving the Bible — and religion itself. The Bible is not the Word; it gives glimpses of the Word.”

    While I do like this concept – and was into Barth myself for a while – I’m curious, how do you back this up?

  • 159. Erudite Redneck  |  March 21, 2009 at 3:29 pm

    Never read any Barth. … Well, as Spong says in defense of his own views: “I’ve read it.” Meaning the Bible.

    On it being idolized, well, look at how it’s treated: as something perfect, which certain writings in the the thing itself say doesn’t exist apart from God God’s self.

    On what the Word is: The author of John ain’t talkin’ about “the Bible” itself. I like the idea of Jesus as an expression of the Jewish Sophia/Wisdom as it meets the Greek Logos.

    The Church, while it may be the Bride of Christ, ain’t Christ; it’s a/the response to Christ, and, as such, it ain’t perfect either, and so idolizing it isn’t the thing to do either.

    Backed by: I’m 44, so, about 36 years, more or less, of thinkin’ on these things, both in and out of fellowship with others in the crowd around Jesus.

  • 160. Luke  |  March 21, 2009 at 4:38 pm

    “While I do like this concept – and was into Barth myself for a while – I’m curious, how do you back this up?”

    love Barth! the whole idea of bible not word of God but contains it just shows how context, culture, and humanity color everything. no such thing as objectivity (he says objectively, har har), emotions at play always. if not in our findings then in the reason we’re asking the question in the first place.

  • 161. BigHouse  |  March 21, 2009 at 8:31 pm

    love Barth! the whole idea of bible not word of God but contains it

    Where do you get your support for even this less stringent view?
    Why can’t the book just be a group of stories?

  • 162. Erudite Redneck  |  March 21, 2009 at 9:20 pm

    What do you mean by support? Because my guess is that nothing I could come up with for an answer — Luke either — would be satisfactory.

  • 163. Luke  |  March 22, 2009 at 12:12 am

    it is a group of stories based on a people’s experience of God or using God-talk. just like The Old Man and the Seawas inspired by the ocean and Cuba, just like Neverwhere was inspired by the London Underground. word of God is found large concentrations in the bible, but it’s not the only place either. it’s out there if one looks for it.

  • 164. Luke  |  March 22, 2009 at 7:41 am

    that’s how i support… whether that fits your def. like ER asks is another matter. satisfactory for me, anyways, and for a pocket full of theologians.

  • 165. GaryC  |  March 22, 2009 at 8:06 am

    On what the Word is: The author of John ain’t talkin’ about “the Bible” itself. I like the idea of Jesus as an expression of the Jewish Sophia/Wisdom as it meets the Greek Logos.

    I wonder if “the Word” knew enough Greek to know the meaning of the word “Logos.”

  • 166. BigHouse  |  March 22, 2009 at 8:08 am

    You are probably right that you won’t be able to support it satisfactorily for me. That’s because your reasons to believe are so loose you could literally and use the same support and be on equal footing. So, perhaps we should leave at that.

  • 167. Erudite Redneck  |  March 22, 2009 at 10:55 am

    GaryC: Probablkly not. Not that that would matter. What Jesus taught is one thing; what other taught, and teach about Jesus is all part of the Christian tradiition but is another thing entirely,.

    BigHouse: It’s not all *that* loose, just looser than traditional, orthodox in-the-pew Christianity, and a hell of a lot looser than fundamentalist Christianity. “Believe” — I hope, and I trust, which requires a lot less intellectual assent to a list of factual propositions than the “I-know” sense of the word. As I’ve said before, there’s a crowd around Jesus, and I’m in it, sometimres up close, sometimes hanging back in the dust.

    I do wonder why “feelings” and emotions get such a bad rap, since they are as much a part of the human experience as rationality and logic. But mostly, I wonder why imagination is so held in disdain. My mom died two year ago; she lives on in my imagination, and when my brother and sisters get together, she lives on among us, in our imagination — which I mean much more than sappy memories, but, obviously, much less than she sat at the table and had a cup of coffee with us. .. There was an article along these lines in Discover not long ago; I’ll see if I can find it after awhile, after church. :-)

  • 168. GaryC  |  March 22, 2009 at 12:31 pm

    What Jesus taught is one thing; what other taught, and teach about Jesus is all part of the Christian tradiition but is another thing entirely.

    Quite true, and of course there is a good deal of room for doubt about what it is that Jesus actually taught. There is not, and as far as we know, never was a “Gospel of Jesus,” written by Jesus. The poor fellow and his teachings have been at the mercy of his followers ever since he died.

    If you could go back in time and tell Jesus that you regarded him as “an expression of the Jewish Sophia/Wisdom as it meets the Greek Logos,” I wonder if he would have had any idea what you were talking about. Maybe you could get him to understand it eventually. Whether he would have agreed with that assessment once he understood it is, as you say, “another thing entirely.” Of course you’d probably have to talk to him in Aramaic, or you would not be able to talk to him at all.

    I do wonder why “feelings” and emotions get such a bad rap, since they are as much a part of the human experience as rationality and logic. But mostly, I wonder why imagination is so held in disdain.

    I can imagine all sorts of things about Jesus and the “Jesus movement.” If I told you some of the things I have imagined, you might regard them with disdain. I do not, however, confuse the things I have imagined with reality, since they amount only to plausibilities, backed by little or no actual evidence. I will say this, though — in their favor is the fact that they take much less effort at suspension of disbelief than some of the all-too-imaginative alternatives that have been peddled as “fact” for, in many cases, almost 2000 years.

  • 169. SnugglyBuffalo  |  March 22, 2009 at 1:08 pm

    I don’t think feelings and emotions get a bad rap themselves. It’s how people use those feelings and emotions. I agree that they are an absolutely integral part of the human experience, but they are also absolutely the wrong way to go about making determinations about objective reality.

  • 170. Erudite Redneck  |  March 22, 2009 at 1:27 pm

    Here’s the Disccover article, which, I think, has ramifications for the life of Christian faith, and others. The headline is unfornate.

    http://discovermagazine.com/2009/feb/15-how-google-is-making-us-smarter/

    “Objective reality” — this is getting closer to where some of my thinking is: Is there such a thing?

    I’m reading some David F. Strauss right now, BTW.

  • 171. Golden Retriever Training  |  January 4, 2011 at 7:06 am

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  • 172. http://tosmos.weebly.com  |  October 18, 2013 at 9:35 am

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  • 173. Alban  |  October 18, 2013 at 2:48 pm

    Amidst the ads where applicable content to this site can exist…I wonder if this generalization can help clarify the golden rule?

    The Premise: Imagine a world without a god that we have imagined, that we have read about, that we think we know, that others before us have tried to explain thru their description and of course those that seek proper social order for a variety of reasons.

    In short let go of all you believe or do not believe. Think, utilizing your observations of life and compare to what you have read, heard about or believe. But separate your emotions or attachment for a minute from unbiased thinking. (You may only have a minute before the bias slips back in!)

    Life has a special quality to it, independent of circumstance, It is hard to pinpoint let alone classify. Throughout recorded history we have been told and for a very few, been shown (tangibly), that some-thing uniquely/exquisitely special is inside each of us, sustaining us in addition to the personalities we each possess.

    It would make sense knowing THAT within ourselves and likely appreciating THAT, that we would recognize THAT in others. Good behavior would not be the guiding principle of addressing ourselves or others. It would be a naturally occurring, likely highly enjoyable acceptance of THAT.

    To focus singly on its physical function of bringing in each breath however, and miss its perceivable presence to our senses inverted, is to miss the enjoyment of THE Source of that special quality.

    Absent of knowing THAT within ourselves merely leaves the ‘practicality’ of rule making as the default mechanism for a created not so “peaceful” existence. A Golden Rule neccessary only as a result of not knowing.

    Imitation and imagination have been sorry bedfellows.

  • 174. Test  |  March 11, 2014 at 3:32 pm

    Hey Raquel,Our services are Sunday Mornings at 9:30 and 11:30 and Wednesday Nights a 7:00. You can find more inmaofrtion about the events and such here on the website! Hope to see you soon!CCESL

  • 175. mamadusty1111  |  March 11, 2014 at 9:42 pm

    I am a misfit Christian: I whole heartedly have faith in Jesus Christ (not claiming to know 100% what he is) and I value the bible (knowing fairly well the facts about its confusing authorship & problems with historicity) and I believe there is an interactive higher power I call God. I am not a creationist, I except how evolution works and the science that shows the age of the earth as being much older than the 6,000 years ( as they claim)– I don’t believe there is evidence for a world wide flood or all the Noah’s ark details (as they tried to teach me in church) and there are a lot of other things that I disagree with MOST “Christians”. My crazy form of Christianity looks a lot more (to me) like the biblical apostles beliefs, than the beliefs I see in church zombies today. And I have no problem living the golden rule AND sharing my faith as the bible says we should.

    Because most of those people who call themselves Christians don’t even really read what the bible REALLY says, they imagine it is the right thing to do when they judge others or claim themselves superior in their faith. When I read this article I was just wondering why did you think you had to ask people to question their own beliefs? I don’t think that’s exactly how it’s supposed to work, and I haven’t really seen that kind of “ministry” ever really work. Didn’t Jesus just kinda go around helping people and telling his own thoughts about things? And the disciples sorta spent their time the same way, yes they “preached” about Jesus, but it wasn’t as an attack against other people beliefs, it was sort of an excited kind of offer to them. They went around joyfully sharing this “thing” they’d found, and offered other people more information as they wanted it. The bible actually says that we can’t teach people about God/Jesus, and that ONLY the “Holy Spirit” should teach people what is right & wrong etc.. I lost my faith for a while after I started learning about how bible stories couldn’t really be true, and after I had learned about other religions before Jesus that had similar saviors…. But my faith was restored when I re-read the bible & put aside all the doctrine, and found out the bible didn’t really say what I was taught. It doesn’t even claim to be perfect, or “God breathed, with no flaws” as most Christians believe it is supposed to be. It doesn’t say that all non believers will go to Hell. It doesn’t say that homosexuals are all damned or that anyone has to do anything the same as anyone else… It basically says that TRUTH is the only way to LOVE, and LOVE is the highest governing power & so you will have a better life if you follow TRUTH and put LOVE above everything else. The after life stuff gets a little more complicated but not much. I’ll spare you my whole list of beliefs. I just wanted to share, that it is possible to be a biblical Christian without being a hypocrite. I don’t know very many, but I sincerely believe I am one person who is living proof of it.

  • 176. cag  |  March 11, 2014 at 10:32 pm

    mamadusty1111, so you are living proof that lying works. Like so many other christians, you only accept those parts of the bible that confirm your biases and reject those that even you can figure out are lies. If a book is full of lies, does it not follow that the book is of no value as a moral guideline or a worldview. You are living a lie.

  • 177. Alban  |  March 12, 2014 at 2:36 am

    mamadusty1111, the perception everyday of love vs the interpretation of love is important to distinguish. Accepting both can be contradictory although most do not know HOW to perceive the love you refer to.

    In the same vein, following Truth is not robotic or outwardly repetitive, parrot like. Being kind to a person for instance does not have to come from a rule. It is naturally part of who we are as human beings. We just have to find that part again within us.

    Identifying the diamonds in the Bible is a good thing. Just remember the root of inspiration for those IS in you as well. You are not acquiring it.

    Don’t worry about cag. On the days he can’t devour flesh in his ocean he has to settle for skimming plankton. And that doesn’t fill his appetite. So he has good days and he has his bad days as well.

    Don’t say ‘pray’, just hold a good thought for him. The diamonds in the Bible will strike you independent of agreed upon interpretive understanding. Both he and I do have a bad taste for mindless collective agreement, but he needs to feed. Nothing personal.

  • 178. cag  |  March 12, 2014 at 1:32 pm

    Alban, unlike you, I do not need moral or lifestyle advice from people who believed in stoning people to death for minor infractions of arbitrary rules. I do not need science advice from people who believed that the sun revolved around the earth. I do not need dietary advice from people who would deny me shrimp. I do not need haberdashery advice from those who would deny me blended fabrics. I do not need the christian bible, or that of any other religion.

  • 179. Alban  |  March 13, 2014 at 1:40 am

    cag, it’s got to be getting clearer that you need to discover the part of you, within you that you think doesn’t exist.

    mamadust1111, differentiate between the diamonds and the dunghills. Notice the editing that make believers subjects rather than sovereign free thinking lovers of God, or lovers of life. If the discerning person sees/feels the discrepancies, there is hope. The final editing took 24 years between both Nicene Conventions! Why 24 years?

    A lot of B.S. went down and needed to be incorporated into “sacred gospels”. The whole point was to mix governmental subjugation of the people with early catholicism into Jesus’ performed miracles and social commentary. This desired tangent reprioritized witness accounts to STRIKE the actual message of one on one entry during physical life, literally perceiving “The Kingdom of God”. Very clever tactic, but took 24 years to attempt to purge the real purpose of Jesus’ message

    I don’t know if the healings and bringing Lazarus back was the best attention getter in hindsight, but folks back then although simpler than us in a number of ways, were more dense than we are. The miracles got all kinds of attention including that of his killers.

    Our current (thought to be) ‘crown of creation’, REASON, to a degree cuts both ways. Bottom line, we are still as ignorant as we were then. But as a race we are now interestingly a little more open for help, the kind we CAN FIND within ourselves. (Still need expert assistance)

    The fairytale of christian religious history is the rationalization of the crucifixion. Jesus, The Christ didn’t die for our sins!!! He died because the roman government and the pharisees and sadduccees wanted no one to be able to be free of human ignorance. SO NIX the ability to discover it within the individual!!! DECLARE it impossible by DECLARING “the mystery of faith”.

    Guilt and accountability was the only leverage on people that government could enforce to maintain order and collect taxes. It is not hard to connect the dots once you know within you, what sustains your life.

    The greatest lesson from the resurrection itself was that life doesn’t end at death. Period. There is life after death. The primary message of Jesus however, focused on enjoying physical life first and foremost within individuals via direct access, AND THEN, let the receivers/devotees discover in their practice, in their daily appreciation, that WHAT was connected to, IS ONGOING. It’s not brain surgery unless you are on the prove it to me, 3rd party objective verification side. It IS that simple.

    No murder, and no editing, no Nicene Conventions, no written exalted “Holy Word of God”, and there would likely be few atheists and not a whole lot of, if any christian sects today. But we have what we have.

    So as I’ve said before we have to return to basics. And that opportunity is being presented again in public offering…free of charge.

    Given the obstacles we do have and the plethora of religion, including the inherent and ingrained attachment to it, see if you are drawn to specific passages in scripture as a way to begin to feel what COULD be real vs what is clearly behaviorally motivated.

    24 years of analysis and editing, millions of deaths and lifetimes of accepting dogma as reality however, makes that difficult. I have enjoyed reading scripture after the fact of ‘knowing’ and the editing jumps out ‘atch ya’.

    I think it significant that the Dead Sea Scrolls and the Dig at Nag Hammadi Codices have surfaced. They are interesting reading. And like the bible, there is more to glean AFTER you become familiar with what is within you. More incorrect translations among the Truth of the various contributors than purposeful misdirection by editors with an entirely different purpose.

  • 180. cag  |  March 13, 2014 at 11:56 am

    No Nicene would have resulted in us possibly having thousands of different false gods instead of the false gods we have today. Until you have evidence for the existence of jesus, evidence not generated decades after the alleged crucifixion, even the existence of a mortal jesus is in question. To then lay divinity on this same individual is preposterous. Should we take the writings of Homer as gospel just because they were written a long time ago?

    No evidence for any god, questionable evidence for someone called jesus and all based on a book designed as an evangelizing tool. Not buying it.

  • 181. Alban  |  March 13, 2014 at 1:52 pm

    cag, the Nicene Conventions produced doctrine containing by their own terminology, “dogma”. Doctrine lays out a foundation for other people to think for you. It is more than advice or suggestion. It is in a religious sense, law. In black and white. So who determines shades of gray? That is why scripture promotes parroting. Say it enough and it becomes truth.

    Doctrine minimizes common sense, creating disagreement, argument and wars. Of course that creates different aspects of one or several gods…perhaps a schizophrenic god with multiple personalities?

    Internal focusing on the source of one’s own life is the evidence you are looking for. It also enables that person with distinct common sense to scrutinize scripture, separating the diamonds from the dunghills as Thomas Jefferson declared.

    When I read about Jesus, I understand the core message a person associated with the name, Jesus was presenting. It would be a statistical anomaly for me to weed thru the Bible or the writings from the dig at Nag Hammadi and NOT find some evidence that correlates to the same direct tangible experience I perceive everyday. Rarely does a crime scene not leave some residue.

    So within the universe of possibility, odds of that one person, likely named Jesus or Yeshua NOT showing at least an inner core of allegiant followers a direct connection to what many of them called “the Kingdom of God” would be remote. if not entirely unlikely.

    So you need first, direct internal evidence to be able to see the evidence others have had despite the concerted nicene attempt to eliminate or alter all of it from the Bible and their doctrine. 325CE- 349CE. And every Sunday in Catholic Mass and in Episcopalian services what does everyone repeat? “The Nicene Creed”.

    This is the core of Christianity, descending from murder and manipulation, now worshipped in celebration. Imagine celebrating the nuclear bombing of Nagasaki and Hiroshima as a new freedom for the rest of the world?

    Belief and opinion based on hearsay is just not accurate, though pieces of it may be correct…the human created, origin of doctrine. The glorified “mystery of faith” and a servile humility to those in authority including government is enslaving, not saving.

  • 182. cag  |  March 13, 2014 at 2:16 pm

    Alban, it is all an attempt to put a shine on BS. I agree that hearsay is not accurate, yet christianity is all hearsay or seesay. Why would anyone believe such controlling nonsense in an age where we are finding out how things work without any attributing to the supernatural. Gods, angels, devils, ghosts – all imaginary.

  • 183. Alban  |  March 13, 2014 at 3:34 pm

    cag, this why I’ve stated before that our race is transitioning from belief to knowing in many arenas. The most essential venue for this transition is knowing ourselves utilizing all necessary resources.

    Imagine a biologist without a microscope or a heart specialist without a stethoscope cannot determine what their specialty would suggest they actually know. Worse, imagine these scientists believing that their instrument worked in reverse of what we do know to be true. There would be data but it would be weak, ineffectual, for the heart specialist, diagnosing the wrong patient.

    Human beings are our own instrument to find the main resource of our lives. We overlook our ability to turn our senses within. We are pacified by their external direction and see no ‘reason’ to turn them within. Someone suggests you might find something significant, perhaps something uniquely joyful there. Some might go as far as describing it as ‘endless treasure’.

    Call that anything you desire. Once you know it, belief is of no consequence. The biologist might say, ” I believe I have the antidote”. The heart specialist might say, ” I believe surgery will save you”.The pastor might say, “Believe and you wlll be saved”.

    With knowing the self the human being might say, “I know my life by itself is exquisitely peaceful, joyful etc…I have never felt a freedom like this”.

    There is a lot more confidence in knowing. Amazement, contentment, kindness, even forgiveness is a fruit of knowing oneself. That and naturally occurring gratitude elevate our humanity.

    If we want to know ourselves, it is possible. We have to use one essential ‘standard feature’ resource that has escaped our attention for quite a long time, in its obviousness.

  • 184. cag  |  March 13, 2014 at 7:39 pm

    Alban,

    We have to use one essential ‘standard feature’ resource that has escaped our attention for quite a long time, in its obviousness.

    If it is so obvious why can’t you explain it?

  • 185. Alban  |  March 14, 2014 at 5:22 am

    I have explained it a number of times. I must be like a nagging spouse. “You just don’t listen!”

    Have you employed the full use of your 5 senses? Have you considered the other direction they each go and what they might be able to perceive? It is a strange phenomenon, cag in ITS OBVIOUSNESS. You are certainly not alone.

    If I told you we don’t think about it because we as a civilization lost the desire to know what those senses can perceive in that direction, would that help connect the dots?

    If you can feel the genuine desire to know something truly wonderful that you contain and that conversely contains you, probably you would have remembered. Without the “thirst” to know, the ‘water’ to quench means nothing.

    It is like the ultimate wake up realization tonic and we all carry it around every moment of our lives. Whether we tap into or not is only a choice IF you really want to know. “Thirst is everything”. Ironic that Sprite used that statement for a long time in their ads.

    Benefits….think I mentioned them as well before…unconditional love, indescribable joy, simplicity, fulfillment, unimaginable gratitude..

    You can say religion is a very very diluted, more of a dry well imitation of this. And the people (one at a time) who have come to remind us up to this point, aren’t always well received. But I think now we are in the beginning of the transition back to ‘knowing’ as a civilization. To make it sound even more sensational, we could call it ‘the enlightenment and the healing of the human race’ but probably nothing beats simple.

    “Peace” is simple and sufficient. “God” raises debate as you can attest.

  • 186. cag  |  March 14, 2014 at 5:07 pm

    Alban, your obvious message is not obvious and your efforts to explain only make things worse. I get absolutely nothing out of what you claim is obvious.

  • 187. Alban  |  March 15, 2014 at 5:26 am

    Why is that?

  • 188. cag  |  March 15, 2014 at 1:30 pm

    Perhaps it is not obvious and has to be explained in full. A user manual for a computer which says only “remove computer from box” is not very instructive. Your blather is similarly not instructive.

  • 189. Alban  |  March 16, 2014 at 5:14 pm

    Do we put any college level courses on trial…a full explanation before we enroll? Wouldn’t that negate having to put the effort in to actually learn the material? Pick up your syllabus and show up, similar to removing computer from box and plugging it in. Since you help people with computers that is not going to be difficult. Once it’s on, further instruction is given.

    Are you open to discover an innate, abundant and fulfilling joy you already possess, but didn’t know that you did? If so, the next step is yours. Explanations are like menus. They are not the food.

    For instruction look up the instructor. Then once familiar, feed until full. Then feed some more…to your heart’s content. It’s not far from smite to smitten.

  • 190. cag  |  March 16, 2014 at 9:06 pm

    Alban, sounds like “have you heard the good news”.

    For instruction look up the instructor.

    What does that even mean?

  • 191. Alban  |  March 17, 2014 at 5:24 pm

    One last opus. I will keep future comments brief, but that question again needs a backround of perspective in which to answer.

    Yes cag, I’d like you to run the gamut. Call me rational in one post and then infer the stigma of evangelism. Guess it’s tough to label a specific box for this ‘blathering’. Put the carving knife away and try ABSORBING the meaning.

    In this conversation face value is shallow. You read without feeling the underlying meaning. Or maybe you are deflecting the point being made, that people CAN PROVE to themselves that God IS ALREADY WITHIN each one. Not that we are gods. We are not, but for something that ‘cannot exist’ for atheists or in the expert opinion of religious scholars, ‘cannot be directly experienced’, it does and it can be, respectively and respectfully!!!!

    How to discover evidence beyond belief within yourself…make sure first, you really genuinely have a sincere desire or “thirst” for it. Though that thirst is there in everyone, most are unaware of it.(That is one prayer that will be answered pretty fast. Just be ready for the response)

    Always given free of charge, this “Knowledge” carries responsibility to yourself on a one to one basis. The fruits of your own enjoyment and gratitude will touch others, but to have the Knowledge and not enter it, puts the term “choice” in a different context than what you would THINK choice is, in this subject matter. Fact is, “ignorance is no defense” now would apply with Knowledge. Big picture, you can no longer say I didn’t know, because you do!

    Religion, atheism and all the rationality of debating God’s existence cannot imagine what it would be like to have the connected awareness in the first place and then NOT make the effort to connect everyday. Before ‘receiving’ the presence of ignorance is relative. WITH this Knowledge and enjoying it, ignorance keeps its distance more like potshots than hail, leaving little relativity in your growing awareness, to hide behind. Not that you get zapped or will go to hell in the afterlife if you falter. (actually an “open door” policy) That is all baloney. We have enough hell here to get a pass, even if there were.

    The autopilot of ignorance of the Self kind of buffers confusion. Relativity and clarity in accepting the access are 2 separate worlds. That makes religion and atheism easy with the buffer.. Directly accessing Knowledge of God is simple but It is “the path of the razor’s edge”. No more buffer.

    In the last 2000 years or so it was almost impossible to get connected. Most of the Givers (one at a time) were reluctant about making it a public offering and if they did, it was difficult to be given It because of monastic requirement PRIOR to receiving. So religion for most carried the day in a “God” relationship…sincere belief, effort, humility and gratitude does make “Grace” available to assist at times (whether we term it miracles, coincidence or anomaly) Reverence is a good thing, but GRATITUDE for life itself in any camp, religious, atheist or other, raises the quality of that person’s life. No doubt! Knowledge or not,

    In this particular time, which many religions assess to be the transition of the darkest age to the age of Enlightenment, there began universal offering of the access to Knowledge of the Self, God, Peace (so many names!) beginning in 1970.

    The requirements prior to access were relaxed a great deal. There is an old expression, “The night is darkest before the dawn” in case there is a question of why ‘relaxed’. Timing, imminent tragedy or both – who knows? I was fortunate to be made aware at that time and now with the technology of mass communication, it is widely available. And simple to prepare for and then to receive.

    This Knowing should be considered, a serious commitment IF one proceeds. So yes, there is a teacher, an amazing one at that. Review earlier posts for contact info.

    Lastly, many teachers exist in our world today, I think buddhists refer to them as bodhisattvas. They are more like insightful life enhancers inspiring in their own right with several good recipe add-ons. Some are sincere and not charlatans. Others maybe many, are, sadly and dupe good people.

    There is one unique teacher, however, who does not give recipe add-ons to KNOW something already present within each of us.

    So here is a litmus test, cag, instruction as far as I can take you not being that teacher. To find the possible direct connection to God, find the teacher and the experience that does NOT add ANYTHING on to knowing yourself AS YOU ARE. Examples of add ons are fundamental belief (so atheists and skeptics qualify), fasting, charity, austerity, praying, specific clothing, beads, tithing, mantras, physical exercise, rites and rituals. I’m sure there are more.

    In other words, a simple way into yourself is direct as it gets. Then hone your innate ability to accept what is already there in its pure form.

    Believe afterwards what you will. You’ll have a lot of extra joy and kindness to share whether you talk about this or not. Those particular times to tell others, are obvious. It is easier to send them to the websites. The teacher is totally enjoyable and very good at what he does. Actually, expert.

  • 192. cag  |  March 17, 2014 at 8:34 pm

    Alban,

    To find the possible direct connection to God

    There has to be a “God” before there can be a direct connection. Why would I want to have a connection to something imaginary? I grew up a long time ago.

  • 193. Alban  |  March 18, 2014 at 2:59 pm

    cag, You are a good researcher. Now find out for yourself.

    The word ‘possible’ describes the interested person’s discovery, not whether “God” exists or not. Our evaluation WITHOUT exploring that possibility attaches a lot of assumption to the identification of the label, God.

    No better way to cut thru assumption including that of “It” being imaginary, than to make the effort to discover! I am confident you will find your research to be enjoyable and quite satisfying in a unique way for you, in the comfort of your own living quarters.

    Notice how procrastination will be heightened in this exploration. That is interesting by itself. Godspeed.

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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.

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