My Problem with Moderate Christianity

December 4, 2009 at 11:55 am 47 comments

I get extremely frustrated with moderate Christians and I believe I’ve figured out why.

Most moderate Christians will say things like:

“Well, I studied all the evidence too and I’ve come to the conclusion that Christianity is true.  People can study the same evidence and come to different conclusions.”

I agree: you studied the same evidence I did and you still believe or came to believe. At first I want to say “that’s fantastic and I won’t judge you for it. It is good that we can study the same evidence and come to different conclusions and I respect you for it and approve of your search and conclusions.”

But I don’t respect them at all, and here is why: the moderate Christian dismisses outright the desire on my part to figure out why we came to a different conclusion and how we can determine which conclusion is accurate. Furthermore, to add injury to insult the moderate Christian’s concluding belief implies that I am to be judged in some manner for coming to a different conclusion.

So, based on this standard, why is it wrong for me – the atheist – to genuinely judge the moderate Christian as intellectually dishonest and holding a double-standard? If they feel justified in believing that I am condemned in any way by their God for coming to different conclusions, I suddenly do not feel so bad about judging them any more.

To the moderate Christian: what substantial evidence do you have whose weight is strong enough to justify your belief that your God is just in condemning me in any way for coming to a different conclusion than you?

If you have none, I rest my case. You are not justified for believing anything about my status before your God, which undermines the very core of the gospel, justifying my claim that the Biblical gospel(s) is / are invalid.

- Josh

Addendum:

Fundamentalist Christian: I believe. The things I believe in are self-evident truths so though I believe they are backed up by the evidence all opposition to it comes from a blinded person who doesn’t want to see the truth and therefore they are self-condemned. I will show you the evidence, listen to your opposition, gently tell you you are wrong, and trust God to work in your heart. And that is the end of the matter. Don’t cloud my understanding with your skepticism because you are only doubting because you are secretly angry at God and his enemy.

Moderate Christian: I believe, but I recognize that others can believe differently based on the same evidence. I respect your position, but you are still condemned by God. We can discuss the evidence, and I will show you how I came to my conclusion and you can show me how you came to yours, but eventually all decisions come down to faith so from the start I recognize we will never be able to figure out who is right and who is wrong in this life. But remember, my beliefs still say you are going to suffer for rejecting God.

Liberal Christian: I believe because it is beneficial, though I don’t necessarily hold that it is physically and literally true. However, I will not say that or it will ruin the entire thing.

Entry filed under: 809334. Tags: .

Hearing Voices Morality: How it Works

47 Comments Add your own

  • 1. atimetorend  |  December 4, 2009 at 1:46 pm

    I understand your point, but I wonder if more nuance to the label of “moderate Christian would be helpful. The following statement I would consider relating to someone I would label as an orthodox or conservative Christian:

    If they feel justified in believing that I am condemned in any way by their God for coming to different conclusions, I suddenly do not feel so bad about judging them any more.

    And this statement may be used by moderate Christians (I don’t know) but is certainly used by fundamentalist Christians:
    People can study the same evidence and come to different conclusions.

    Just peruse an AIG article…

    The criteria you are using is those who would allow for different interpretations but still say you are wrong for having your interpretations. I guess I am thinking of liberal Christians who could start with allowing for different interpretations but not judge you in any way for thinking otherwise, and might even admire your thinking things out that way.

  • 2. Joshua  |  December 4, 2009 at 2:01 pm

    I understand your point, but I wonder if more nuance to the label of “moderate Christian would be helpful.

    I think I’d just say a moderate Christian is someone who actually believes the gospel including a literal hell or judgment by God but who recognizes that other people can come to different conclusions and does not personally judge them but defers all the judgment to God.

    Edit: I just think this is cheap. It’s not taking responsibility for reasoning that someone else is wrong enough to receive judgment and at the same time taking some sort of moral high road and at the same time trying to act humble by respecting the other person’s belief. It’s just convoluted and, in my opinion, wrong. If you have good enough evidence to justify the belief that I am under God’s wrath in some way, show it. Otherwise, it is wrong for you to hold that belief.

  • 3. Joe  |  December 4, 2009 at 3:07 pm

    “Furthermore, to add injury to insult the moderate Christian’s concluding belief implies that I am to be judged in some manner for coming to a different conclusion”. (from above)

    The actual term is “insult to injury” not the opposite.

    Just being picky. :)

  • 4. Joe  |  December 4, 2009 at 3:09 pm

    There is “injury to insult” in World of Warcraft apparently as I googled the term. LOL

  • 5. Joshua  |  December 4, 2009 at 3:44 pm

    I reversed it on purpose because it made more sense, actually. Because the insult (I respect your conclusion but you are wrong even though I’m not willing to show you how) comes first and the injury (hell) comes later.

    I win :)

  • 6. Joe  |  December 4, 2009 at 3:52 pm

    Joshua—-

    Actually you have injury fist and insult second in your sentence in your article. In your post #5 you are correct insult comes before injury—–but you’re article says adding injury to insult—reversed. Don’t quite get your point. I don’t think you “meant” to reverse them—-it was just an honest mistake/typo. We all do it at times. :)

  • 7. Joe  |  December 4, 2009 at 3:54 pm

    I was just being “picky”—didn’t mean to detract from your article. Sorry about that.

  • 8. Joshua  |  December 4, 2009 at 4:00 pm

    Right, because it is adding injury to insult. Therefore insult comes first, injury later.

  • 9. Joshua  |  December 4, 2009 at 4:11 pm

    While you are around Joe, how would you respond to my question?

  • 10. DSimon  |  December 4, 2009 at 5:00 pm

    To play devil’s advocate, consider that the judgement that the moderate Christian assumes will be applied to atheists isn’t actually originating from them, but from a third party that they’ve merely identified.

    That is, a moderate Christian might say “We can both study the same evidence and come to different conclusions, and my conclusion is that God will impose nasty consequences on you for coming to your conclusion.”

    From their perspective, it’s like warning people not to jump out of a 10th story window; they’re not the one causing gravity to be dangerous, they’re just the messenger.

    Of course, if they go on to imply that this judgement is moral and deserved, then that’s a different story.

  • 11. Joe  |  December 4, 2009 at 5:22 pm

    Right, because it is adding injury to insult. Therefore insult comes first, injury later.(#8)

    Josh–yes,correct—-but read your own blog. You say “Adding Injury to insult”—you have it reversed. The proper term is “adding insult to injury”. Go back up and read your blog. :)

  • 12. Joe  |  December 4, 2009 at 5:25 pm

    Oh—I think I understand what you are saying now Josh—–I’m not thinking straight today. :)

  • 13. Stephen  |  December 4, 2009 at 5:46 pm

    2 problems with your argument. First, fundamentalism does not have to be religious. Dawkins is an example of this. As an atheist, his philosophy is a locked in, bi-polar, right or wrong form of extreme rationalism. Chris Hedges explores this in his book, I Don’t Believe in Atheists. Secondly, you argue as if Christians must exist within your own plausibility structure. Not everyone is a rationalist. If you accept enlightenment philosophy without criticism, that’s your choice. But you can’t foster that on others. My biggest issue with new wave atheists is the tendency to echo those of the Christian Right. It is as if they haven’t studied philoisophy at all, and accept the scientific model without challenge. Enlightenment philosophy does not include teleogy. That is, it is a form of belief that excludes God. And yet you expect Christians to argue for a supernatural God within a plausibility structure that excludes the possibility of His existence. Silly.

  • 14. BigHouse  |  December 4, 2009 at 5:55 pm

    Joe, that was a lot of posts to no end, eh?

  • 15. Joshua  |  December 4, 2009 at 5:55 pm

    Stephen, I’m not talking about fundamentalism.

    It sounds to me like you are trying to undermine the epistemology of the new atheists by casting the underlying principle of the scientific method into doubt.

    Cool, how do you know that’s true?

    Otherwise, I don’t really know what your point is: It doesn’t make sense.

    If you accept enlightenment philosophy without criticism, that’s your choice.

    If you can figure out a way to criticize rationalism without using reason, I’ll agree with you. Otherwise you throw everything you say into doubt.

  • 16. Joshua  |  December 4, 2009 at 5:57 pm

    The only thing you can question and make your question meaningless is reason, because you must have a reason to question it.

    Therefore, reason.

    Edit: I should clarify… there are other meaningless questions… like “where did the universe come from?” or “who made making?”

  • 17. twirlgrl  |  December 4, 2009 at 6:29 pm

    Josh, As atheists, we want proof or at least credible, solid evidence before coming to a conclusion or making a judgement whereas Christians have no problem accepting what they’ve told to be the truth so they have no problem justifying their belief that you should be punished.

    Most atheists I know never claim to be 100% sure of anything – not even Dawkins would make such a claim – although all available evidence tell is it is true. There is always the possibility that new evidence will be presented and as people who rely on facts and reasoning, our beliefs must be changeable.

    Conversely, Christianity depends on beliefs never changing despite any amount of evidence. Christians believe the Bible to be the inerrant word of God. It cannot be wrong.

    It is extremely frustrating when someone assumes that their feeling of certainty equates to actual certainty despite the fact that there all of the evidence is on the other side of the arguement.

  • 18. Joshua  |  December 4, 2009 at 6:32 pm

    Conversely, Christianity depends on beliefs never changing despite any amount of evidence.

    Right, but my post is addressed to Christians who claim to have looked at the evidence:

    In my post: “Well, I [Christian] studied all the evidence too and I’ve come to the conclusion…”

    A Christian is not justified in their belief of Theistic-based-condemnation based on subjectively interpreted evidence. If it is not subjectively interpreted, it is up to the Christian to show why and how they came to a different conclusion and their why and how should stand scrutiny.

  • 19. Joe  |  December 4, 2009 at 7:15 pm

    BigHouse—(#14)

    Funny how you show up every time Joshua does and almost always without fail agree with him 100% :)

    I agree though—it was a waste of time.

    –Joe

  • 20. Joshua  |  December 4, 2009 at 7:29 pm

    It’s not about agreeing with an individual, it is about agreeing with a conclusion on the basis of its premises.

  • 21. Joe  |  December 4, 2009 at 7:49 pm

    A Christian is not justified in their belief of Theistic-based-condemnation based on subjectively interpreted evidence. If it is not subjectively interpreted, it is up to the Christian to show why and how they came to a different conclusion and their why and how should stand scrutiny. (#18)

    But isn’t subjecitivity also part of the atheist’s conclusion? “God did not answer MY prayers therefore I do not believe he is there” for example. And because he doesn’t answer MY prayers therefore God does not answer prayer, etc.

  • 22. BigHouse  |  December 4, 2009 at 7:57 pm

    If you’re implying I’m a sock puppet for Josh then I’m sorry you think so, because it isn’t true. And I’m not sure what your evidence for me agreeing 100% with him is, but that’s your extreme case to make I guess.

    I just find your singal to noise ratio to be extremely lacking.

  • 23. BigHouse  |  December 4, 2009 at 8:00 pm

    But isn’t subjecitivity also part of the atheist’s conclusion? “God did not answer MY prayers therefore I do not believe he is there” for example. And because he doesn’t answer MY prayers therefore God does not answer prayer, etc.

    The case against God is A LOT more than that. Unanswered prayer is but one argument against God’s existence, and subjectivitiy has nothing to do with it.

  • 24. Joe  |  December 4, 2009 at 8:17 pm

    Bighouse—-

    I was kidding. Perhaps you and Josh have similar hours and go on to the computer near the same time. Not inferring you are a sock puppet. :) (#23) I am sure there is more for atheists in the case against God’s existence than unanswered prayer—-but that appears to be a complaint that is made a lot—-and a lot of the complaints are very subjective. That was all I was stating.

  • 25. Joe  |  December 4, 2009 at 8:19 pm

    Christian: “God answers my prayers”.

    Atheist: “Never answered one of mine. All I did was pray to the ceiling”.

    Both very subjective..

  • 26. sockpuppet  |  December 4, 2009 at 8:24 pm

    I’m looking for a job. Any takers?

  • 27. Joe  |  December 4, 2009 at 8:25 pm

    Just kidding. Couldn’t resist the sockpupper asking for a job bit. :)

  • 28. Joe  |  December 4, 2009 at 8:32 pm

    :)

  • 29. Henry  |  December 4, 2009 at 8:45 pm

    Last night I was out of wine. I was also low on cash. I decided to put some water into jugs. I put a little grape juice on top. I said a little prayer to God. PLease make the water into wine. I mean I had some faith. I left it around for at least as day. Two days later it tasted like watered down grape juice. It had no kick to it.

    What did I do wrong? I had faith. I though my faith would provide me with some cheap wine.

  • 30. Joe  |  December 4, 2009 at 8:53 pm

    Henry—-

    Next time try the same experiment at a wedding. It’s worked before.

  • 31. Lew A  |  December 5, 2009 at 12:21 am

    “the moderate Christian dismisses outright the desire on my part to figure out why we came to a different conclusion and how we can determine which conclusion is accurate. Furthermore, to add injury to insult the moderate Christian’s concluding belief implies that I am to be judged in some manner for coming to a different conclusion.”

    I still don’t quite understand how you’re defining “moderate Christian”. So I am not sure if I fall into that category (or who might). But what if *I* (as a Christian) don’t dismiss your desire to figure out why we have come to different conclusions… (etc.)? Would you then be fine with me believing that you were condemned?

    I think there is a lot you don’t quite understand about Christianity that is clouding your view in this matter. For instance, it seems like you are mixing categories. My believing in God doesn’t lead me to believe that you are condemned for not believing in God. My belief in what condemns a man is what leads me to believe that you are condemned.

    So, Joe Christian has “considered all available evidence concerning condemnation and has come to the conclusion that you are condemned for XXX and YYY.” But in that case, I doubt you really have a problem, because the categories aren’t mixed. In fact, it would be reasonable for you to agree with Joe Christian based on his presuppositions. He believes X, Y, and Z, which is a foundation for his belief about condemnation. If you accept (for the sake of argument) that X, Y, and Z are also true, you should come to the same conclusion.

    Then you can discuss separately X, Y, and Z.

    By the way, I’m not hip to the whole new atheist thing, and I really don’t mean any offense… but when I was agnostic, I always felt that atheists were morons for claiming that God didn’t exist. It is rather arrogant to say, X doesn’t exist because I didn’t experience A, B, or C. I’m not even sure it is possible to have evidence that proves something doesn’t exist. In my opinion, believing in something’s non-existence takes much more faith than believing in something existence.

    But that may all moot, judging from twirlgrl’s comment (#17), atheists aren’t 100% sure? What ever happened to good ole agnostics?

    Sorry for the rambling.

    God Speed,
    Lew

  • 32. Quester  |  December 5, 2009 at 4:27 am

    Josh,

    For your complaint to hold water, your moderate Christian has to believe in one of the many versions of “the” gospel that includes a possibility of condemnation and/or hell. Do you have a problem with moderate Christian universalists?

    Lew,

    Agnostic is a stance towards knowledge (you don’t have some) where atheist is a stance toward belief (you don’t have some). Neither require a positive claim. I do not say that Yahweh, Thor, Zoraster and Hermes definitely do not exist, I just have no reason to believe they do. I’m sure you can think of at least one god you don’t believe exists, which would make you an atheist too (at least in relation to that god).

  • 33. Brent  |  December 5, 2009 at 10:23 am

    Joe,

    I think you missed the point:

    >Christian: “God answers my prayers”.
    >Atheist: “Never answered one of mine. All I did was pray to the ceiling”.
    >Both very subjective..

    I don’t think my position is subjective at all, and it is nowhere near your notional atheist. My position is that you can objectively assess the effectiveness of prayer (as many studies have done) and in doing so you find no effect.

    For instance, say “Mike” is seriously ill, and his family and friends pray for him. Of the many possible outcomes, most fall into one of two general categories: Either he recovers, or he doesn’t. There are actions that can measurably influence the outcome–going to a doctor, for instance. But those will have the same effect on the outcome whether or not prayer is involved.

    The problem comes in when you flip to the other side. If you allow any outcome to be counted as an answer to prayer, then that makes the whole question meaningless.

    –Mike’s all better. It’s an answered prayer.
    –Mike passed on. He’s not suffering anymore, it’s an answered prayer!
    –There was a doctor available at the hospital. He’s treating Mike. It’s an answered prayer!
    –We were running up a huge medical bill. Some people collected some money and gave it to us to help pay it! It’s an answered prayer!

    In the first two examples, completely opposite outcomes are both able to be credited to answered prayer. In the third, the availabilty of medical personnel, facilities, and procedures, which were already there, are credited to the result of prayer. In the last example, the generosity of others is credited to God…in my mind that kind of cheapens the act. What that says is that it is a purely mechanistic reaction to God’s suggestion–not an act of charity, but an involuntary act of obligation.

    It is a nice trick, though. Equate the two so they seem like they have equal validity. It’s something like the old “atheism is a religion” ploy.

    Sorry about the extended digression…

  • 34. BigHouse  |  December 5, 2009 at 11:23 am

    Brent, good response.

    In addition, Joe, I will stipulate that your simple straw-man atheist you posit is indeed using subjective means to come to his conclusions. WHat that does for the greater discussion, I don’t know.

  • 35. Joshua  |  December 5, 2009 at 11:58 am

    Lew

    I still don’t quite understand how you’re defining “moderate Christian”.

    I’ve added an addendum to the post describing the scale as I see it. I believe I would peg you as a moderate Christian… but let’s see.

    If you are a moderate Christian…

    My guess is that if we discussed the evidence, you would eagerly be hoping that I accept Jesus Christ. However, if the evidence starts to turn against your position, you would not follow the golden rule. You would back off and say that all positions start from a point of faith and hem and haw and say that people can look at the same evidence and come to different conclusions. If I press the point, you will get agitated and start to point out that lots of people have studied the evidence and come to the same conclusion you have, as if that somehow justifies your position.

    My point is that your position that I am going to suffer at the hand of your God is not justified by evidence that is subjectively interpreted.

    Moderate Christians are like people who are willing to play chess, but right when they are losing squirm their way out of finishing the game by questioning every rule because they claim to know the guy who invented it.

    My believing in God doesn’t lead me to believe that you are condemned for not believing in God. My belief in what condemns a man is what leads me to believe that you are condemned.

    Don’t be silly. If you didn’t believe in God – your definition of God – you wouldn’t have any reason to believe in that form of condemnation. Right? So the condemnation directly proceeds from your belief in God.

    Look at you. I’ve never talked to you before (that I remember) and you are already saying I am condemned.

    I always felt that atheists were morons for claiming that God didn’t exist.

    Yes, it is moronic to claim that no god exists. That’s why every atheist I know does not claim that.

    An atheist is a person who simply say “the god by definition X cannot rationally exist or is completely worthless if it did.”

    So if a person were to say that God is an all-powerful, benevolent, omniscient being… by definition, that God cannot rationally exist. This is where Christians normally begin questioning the rules and saying God is above reason or something like that. But they still feel justified in saying I am condemned. So they undermine the entire reasoning process as soon as it comes out in any way against them and then say the other person will suffer. So annoying.

    Or a person could make a claim about a deity that is completely worthless, like “God is above reason.” If God is above reason, then this means that God can both exist and not exist at the same time. However, if God must conform to the Law of Non-Contradiction, then this means that God is not above reason. So this definition of God is really meaningless.

    What ever happened to good ole agnostics?

    I’m an atheist. I do not believe any of the proposed theisms.

    I’m an agnostic. I do not believe God, if it exists, is knowable.

    Sorry for the rambling.

    No problem at all… wasn’t rambling at all.

  • 36. Joshua  |  December 5, 2009 at 12:04 pm

    Joe,

    Regarding subjectivity and objectivity. I hold that both are true.

    There is objective truth that is subjectively interpreted.

    However, my point is that if the evidence is subjectively interpreted, no man has any right to even believe that another man is condemned for coming to a different subjective conclusion.

    Therefore any belief in a God who condemns others for coming to a different conclusion combined with an understanding that conclusions are subjective is morally bankrupt.

  • 37. Joshua  |  December 5, 2009 at 12:17 pm

    Lew, one more thing (sorry for all the piggyback comments):

    You said:

    If you accept (for the sake of argument) that X, Y, and Z are also true, you should come to the same conclusion.

    Then you can discuss separately X, Y, and Z.

    This is backwards.

    While I agree, I have never once met a Christian who considered X, Y, and Z first before coming to the conclusion that naturally follows if X, Y, and Z are true.

    Most Christians just believe at some point, come to the conclusion that others are condemned, and then want to wiggle out of changing their conclusions as soon as someone points out that they never checked X very carefully.

    Yet they still want to continue teaching, preaching, witnessing, etc. that others are condemned.

    And very few… very few at all! will actually change their conclusions out of honesty when it is pointed out that X is not true. They have too much at stake: family, friends, leadership, etc.

    That’s not fair. It’s not nice. It’s not honest. It’s not just.

    Do not believe that another man is eternally condemned until your evidence is of equal weight to that type of condemnation.

  • 38. Brent  |  December 5, 2009 at 1:34 pm

    Lew,

    >My believing in God doesn’t lead me to believe that you are condemned for not believing in God. My belief in what condemns a man is what leads me to believe that you are condemned.

    OK, I’ll bite. Please tell me exactly how you come to believing that another human being is condemned because of ‘x,’ ‘y,’ and ‘z’ without ‘x,’ ‘y,’ or ‘z’ pointing straight back to God?

    >I’m not even sure it is possible to have evidence that proves something doesn’t exist.

    That is kind of the point. There is no way to prove the absence of the unseen. There is also no way to prove the existence of the unseen, so no one can ever be 100% sure that God does or does not exist.

    >In my opinion, believing in something’s non-existence takes much more faith than believing in something existence.

    I kind of chuckled when I got here…my first thought was that you must have a hard time with leprochauns and faeries. Seriously, though, I’m pretty sure you don’t believe that as written. If you did, you would, by necessity, be the most gullible person in the world. If I told you that there was an invisible monkey living in my attic, you would believe me until it could be proved otherwise. (And since the monkey is invisble–and very quiet–it never would!)

    That’s something we leave behind in childhood. When mom and dad tell us that Santa is coming, we happily get in bed, so he can come in unseen and leave us lots of cool stuff. When we wake up one year and see mom and dad putting all of Santa’s toys out, we may be able to convince ourselves that Santa’s already been here, and they’re just helping put everything in the right place, for a little while at best. Sooner or later, you face up to the fact that mom and dad are buying the toys, putting them there, and even eating Santa’s cookies and milk, and the carrots and water for the reign deer. You still can’t prove he DOESN’T exist, but the evidence says it’s unlikely. My guess is that most people, at that point, abandon any belief in Santa because it is overwhelmingly unlikely that he exists (at least in the form described by our parents.) This goes pretty much regardless of your desire to continue believing in Santa.

    Why not continue to believe? Because the claim of existence is a positive claim that requires evidence. When you’re small, you overlooked the inconsistencies in the story–or didn’t even notice them–and the fact that the cookies, carrots and beverages were gone and there were presents on the floor, and in your stocking, was all the evidence you needed. When that evidence is discredited, you stop believing.

    It’s the same way with God.

  • 39. Joshua  |  December 5, 2009 at 1:40 pm

    Brent, I like your style.

  • 40. Brent  |  December 5, 2009 at 2:51 pm

    Josh and BigHouse

    Thanks for the encouraging words!

    Now on to the original post.

    >So, based on this standard, why is it wrong for me – the atheist – to genuinely judge the moderate Christian as intellectually dishonest and holding a double-standard?

    Depends on the definition of judge though, I guess. I don’t think it is wrong to call those things out based on any standard, personally. To come right out and say that an argument is intellectually dishonest? Any time, any place. To identify a double standard? Absolutely. Those should be no-brainers in any discussion, no matter how cordial. Bear in mind that whether fundamentalist or moderate, by your definitions, we’re already wrong no matter how good our argument or how flawed theirs is. So I see no problem with being blunt. Tiptoeing around the question only adds to the sense of entitlement that they enjoy.

  • 41. Joshua  |  December 5, 2009 at 6:10 pm

    Yeah, I think you nailed what I meant by judge.

  • 42. Brent  |  December 5, 2009 at 6:40 pm

    Yeah, I thought so. It’s tough when you have two different forms of “judgment” juxtaposed…

  • 43. Lew A  |  December 6, 2009 at 12:28 am

    I should have probably prefaced my original comment by saying that although I consider myself quite conservative in regards to my belief in God/Jesus/Scripture… I would not be considered conservative to most others who are labeled as “conservative Christians. Nor would I say that my beliefs about God/Jesus/Scripture are traditional (in the modern sense of tradition).

    That said, I can understand where some of your (all of you) frustrations come from. I have shared similar frustrations with Christians and non-Christians. I also, shamefully admit, that most modern Christian philosophers are pop-philosophers at the most and I personally find most of their arguments either circular or purely illogical.

    With that said, and with only the evidence from this post (as I have no read any others), I still get the impression that you (generally) do not understand Christian “doctrine” or the “heart” of most Christian belief.

    So, without getting to long winded, let me respond to a few parts of each comment, as I do not have the time to respond to all and feel like it would be somewhat futile if I did. However, if there is a pressing question you have for me that I skip, let me know and I will try to answer it with the best of my ability.

    Josh,

    However, if the evidence starts to turn against your position, you would not follow the golden rule. You would back off and say that all positions start from a point of faith and hem and haw and say that people can look at the same evidence and come to different conclusions.

    “evidence” on its own can not be for or against a position. Only the interpretation of evidence can lead to a specific conclusion. Our interpretations are hopefully objective but rarely so.

    I do believe in “faith”, but my belief in God is not purely based on “faith”. Most of the faith I have in regards to God is faith in his future promises. When considering the evidence for God, it wasn’t just logic and reason, it wasn’t just reading a bunch of letters written 1900+ years ago, it wasn’t just my experiences, it wasn’t just the testimony of other’s experiences, it was all of those, combined and probably some things that I’ve left out.

    So, yes, there is an aspect of faith in everything we do… and yes, it is possible for some people to come to a different conclusion than I have come to. But I do not believe that both conclusions are correct – as I am sure you would not either.

    Don’t be silly. If you didn’t believe in God – your definition of God – you wouldn’t have any reason to believe in that form of condemnation. Right? So the condemnation directly proceeds from your belief in God.

    Not necessarily. Belief in God does not necessitate belief in condemnation. I do believe in God and I do believe in a future, literal Hell that will have some people in it. My presupposition is God… but there are many who believe in the same God I believe in who believe in annihilation, or universal salvation, etc.

    Look at you. I’ve never talked to you before (that I remember) and you are already saying I am condemned.

    Actually I was using “you” in a universal sense… I wasn’t *trying* to pass judgment on you. I actually have a somewhat skewed view of condemnation based on what I understand about God/Jesus/Scripture. From what I understand about salvation and condemnation, I have an idea of who will not be “saved” but am by no means the final authority on the matter ;).

    So if a person were to say that God is an all-powerful, benevolent, omniscient being… by definition, that God cannot rationally exist.

    I don’t follow, why can’t an all-powerful, benevolent, omniscient being rationally exist?

    Or a person could make a claim about a deity that is completely worthless, like “God is above reason.” If God is above reason, then this means that God can both exist and not exist at the same time.

    I actually believe that God cannot exist apart from reason. Rules of logic are a part of his nature, he cannot break them, he is “them” if you will. Not that “logic” is God, but I think you understand the point I’m trying to make.

    And very few… very few at all! will actually change their conclusions out of honesty when it is pointed out that X is not true. They have too much at stake: family, friends, leadership, etc.

    That’s not fair. It’s not nice. It’s not honest. It’s not just.

    I agree.

    Do not believe that another man is eternally condemned until your evidence is of equal weight to that type of condemnation.

    I am not sure that I agree with this. I personally do not have an eternal measuring rod to weigh the evidence that someone will be eternally condemned. Further, for the sake of being a decent human, if I have even a shred of evidence that someone is going to spend eternity in Hell, then I believe it is much more noble to share that with someone, then to hold back until it actually happens. If it doesn’t, great… nothing was lost.

    Brent,

    OK, I’ll bite. Please tell me exactly how you come to believing that another human being is condemned because of ‘x,’ ‘y,’ and ‘z’ without ‘x,’ ‘y,’ or ‘z’ pointing straight back to God?

    Actually X, Y, Z in my example were the presuppositions. So, belief in God would most likely be a presupposition in the believe of condemnation. I think you misunderstood what I was saying. If you assume that someones presuppositions are true, it is not hard to understand why their believe in something else it true. That doesn’t make it true – but it’s a step in the direction of “understanding”.

    so no one can ever be 100% sure that God does or does not exist.

    I agree.

    Seriously, though, I’m pretty sure you don’t believe that as written. If you did, you would, by necessity, be the most gullible person in the world.

    Of course I believe what I said. And you’ve made an error, my belief doesn’t make me the most gullible person in the world. I said that it takes “more faith” to believe in somethings non-existence. That doesn’t mean that I believe everything exists… but that I exercise “more faith” when I believe that things don’t exist, like unicorns and Santa Claus.

    But, maybe my “more faith” argument is flawed. Maybe it takes the same amount of faith, but a different way of applying that faith, I don’t know. I’ll have to give it more thought.

    God Speed All,
    Lew

  • 44. Brent  |  December 6, 2009 at 10:24 am

    Lew,

    I understand that x, y, and z are your presuppositions. My point was that one of those presuppositons will most likely point back to your belief in God in order to justify condemnation. The question comes down to, if not God, what is the ultimate source of the condemnation?

    Still, you can argue the validity of the logic all you want, but you can’t separate it from the assumptions, at least on a practical level. Otherwise, all it is is a philosophical exercise. Ultimately, it might improve understanding, but you still have to deal with the question of the assumptions.

    If we were talking about knowing something with absolute certainty, I might agree with you that it takes something more than reason to believe in the non-existence of God. If I was to say “I know beyond the shadow of any doubt, that God doesn’t exist,” I would be well beyond anything I could rationally support. So, yes, that would take faith. That’s not what we’re talking about. When I say I don’t believe in God, what I am saying is just that. I don’t believe that God exists. As a practical matter, you can say that I believe God doesn’t exist, but that’s an imperfect comparison. In it’s most technical sense, believing that God doesn’t exist implies a certainty that is impossible to attain…not believing in God implies no such thing. But on a practical level, the effect is really the same.

    Now, that having been said, there is a sense that “faith” could be applied to “belief” in my sense. The American Heritage Dictionary shows, as it’s first definition of faith: “Confident belief in the truth, value, or trustworthiness of a person, idea, or thing.”

    In that sense, I have faith in Bernoulli’s Principle–that every time I get on an airplane, the curved airfoils will create a low pressure area above the wings that will keep the airplane in the air (otherwise, I’d never go near the things!) But I have faith in Bernoulli’s principle because it can be routinely and consistently demonstrated to work, in at the airport, in lab settings, wind tunnels, or even by blowing on a piece of paper. (Anyone remember doing that as a kid?)

    This is definitely not the “faith” that most Christians would refer to, nor is it the “faith” described in the Bible. The second definition in the AHD is: “Belief that does not rest on logical proof or material evidence,” and the fourth is: “[often Faith Christianity] The theological virtue defined as secure belief in God and a trusting acceptance of God’s will.”

    In fact, Paul expressly argued against faith (sense 1) in several places: “So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God” (Rom 10:17); “…That your faith should not stand in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God” (1Cor 2:5;) “For we walk by faith, not by sight” (2Cor 5:17.)

    Before anyone says he was talking about something different–yes, I know he was talking about something different. That’s my point. Faith, as used by believers, is a very different thing from the mundane sense of faith…the faith that says “I believe God sent his son to be my savior” is a very different thing from the faith that says “I believe the Sun will rise tomorrow.” That’s why non-believers go to so much effort not to use “faith” (sense 1) in these kind of situations. It’s easier to use another word, say “trust, ” for instance, than to use a word that is automatically understood by a large portion of the population as “belief without evidence.”

  • 45. amy  |  December 15, 2009 at 9:36 am

    Lew A:

    I don’t follow, why can’t an all-powerful, benevolent, omniscient being rationally exist?

    Suffering.

    A benevolent being would want to prevent or stop suffering, or at the very least, avoid creating the possibility for its existence.

  • 46. jeff  |  April 18, 2011 at 7:07 am

    ISIAIh 41 BRING forth your IDOLS did they PREACH to you see they can’t speak they can’t DO ANYTHING all they do is cause confusion. spalms 115 and spalms 135 thier IDOLS are FALSE cant speak can’t hear cant smell and those that make them shall become like them. Jeremiah 10 they nail their IDOL down like a scarecrow it can’t move can’……t speak can’t move must be carried these are nothing but the WORK of CON men.john 10 jesus christ sais his sheep hear his voice and another voice thy will not follow and if another person tries to preach to them they WILL FLEE from him. jeremiah 5 the priests bear rule on their own authority what will you do when your judged my word is not inside them. Now here is the kicker john 5 son of man voice goes back in time mathew 16 jesus christ claims to be the son of man.‎1 cor2 mind of CHRIST preached internally and john 16 sais the spirit of truth comes in the future. Ezekiel 13 lying prophets of ISRAEL my word is not inside them saying god sais god sais god sais wrote hoping mankind would CONFIRM their WORDS. all of this is EASILY verifiable

  • 47. BigHouse  |  April 18, 2011 at 5:32 pm

    all of this is EASILY verifiable

    Perhaps, if we could muddle through your destruction of grammar, spelling and punctuation.

Leave a Reply

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

WordPress.com Logo

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

Twitter picture

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

Facebook photo

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

Google+ photo

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

Connecting to %s

Trackback this post  |  Subscribe to the comments via RSS Feed


Attention Christian Readers

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

de-conversion wager

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

Twitter

Archives

Blog Stats

  • 1,994,769 hits since March 2007

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 189 other followers