Posts tagged ‘theology’
Earlier this week on The Today Show, Robert Robertson, a pilot who survived a plane crash by landing his plane a few feet away from I-95 in Florida said he was no longer an agnostic. His survival was truly a miracle since his plane literally disintegrated around him and he was left sitting in his seat dazed but ok.
In cases like this, it’s easy to conclude “divine intervention.”
Psalms 91 is a beautiful Psalm talking about the God’s protection for those who “dwell in the secret place of the Most High.”
You shall not be afraid of the terror by night,
Nor of the arrow that flies by day,
Nor of the pestilence that walks in darkness,
Nor of the destruction that lays waste at noonday.
A thousand may fall at your side,
And ten thousand at your right hand;
But it shall not come near you…
We’ve all heard versions of the phrase: “You can have a personal relationship with Jesus.” or, “I have a personal relationship with the Lord.” etc.
Here’s a slightly long version of it that I read recently:
“The point of a personal relationship with Jesus is that Jesus is specifically concerned with the details of every person’s life. If a friend came to you and said “You know, I’d just like to go get some coffee and spend some time with you and talk about what is going on in your life” would you be selfish to accept? Not if the person is truly sincere in that they want to know. So that’s how I see it. Not as something selfish, but in fact as responding to an invitation to spend personal time with Jesus. Because He loves each one of us, both as a body of believers, and as individuals.”
At some point in my de-conversion process it struck me that this idea is bunk. I’ve had friends offer to sit and talk over a lunch, but I’ve definitely never done lunch with Jesus.
As I thought it through, I realized that the whole “personal relationship/ revelation/ experience” jag is just another delusion…
When I wrote about demanding that one read some holy book, such as the Bible, I got a good deal of criticism for saying that I reject the Bible without having read all of it. What I meant, of course, was that I reject the foundation of the Christian religion, which I do know, and I don’t particularly care about the rest of the book as long as its teachings are irrelevant to me.
I’m not going to open that particular can of worms again. Rather, let’s take a step back and consider what a good reason to reject a belief system would look like.
Every religion is a body of different belief systems. There’s ethical teachings, mythology, cosmology, biology, philosophy, all jammed together from a time when there was no real separation between the various branches of science, the various branches of philosophy and religion. We all have some kind of attitude to these systems. And here comes the crucial point: there is no neutral belief system. Every belief system, so long as its body of beliefs is halfway coherent, will include an implicit claim to the opposite of opposing belief systems…
The other day, while browsing some Kent Hovind videos on YouTube, I caught an interesting remark. Hovind, a notorious young earth creationist, claimed that dinosaurs lived as recently as 5000 years ago. Our legends of fire-breathing dragons come from our memories of dinosaurs, and that those dinosaurs breathed fire. Now, where did Hovind get these ideas which have no historical or scientific support? I believe it to specifically be a reference to Behemoth and Leviathan, two creatures mentioned in Job 40 and 41. Since Behemoth has biblical reference outside of this passage, I thought I would look into Leviathan, and see what the Bible says about this creature, and various ways in which it can be interpreted. Let’s look up some of the Biblical references to Leviathan. Some Bibles interpret the Leviathan of Job 41 to be a crocodile. This was the view taken by my old church when I was growing up. Ken Hovind believes this to be a dinosaur. Let’s take a look at the description of this beast as given by YHVH in Job 41:
The Lord (YHVH), in expresses his power and might to Job thusly:
“Can you draw out Levi’athan with a fishhook, or press down his tongue with a cord? Can you put a rope in his nose, or pierce his jaw with a hook? (vs 1,2)
Implying that YHVH can do these things to Leviathan, and poor mortal Job cannot…
The fallacy that we all abide by one paradigm (or at least that we should) has led many Christians, both those of the conservative typology as well of the “floundering liberal” (Falwell’s words, not mine), to believe that non-believers have no ultimate purpose or meaning in life. Yet they do not realize that this unfair accusation is no different than the atheist who would also unfairly place his or her paradigm on the Christian and proclaim that a worship of an imaginary being and the subsequent false hope for a life after this one is foolishly nihilistic and deters the “believer” from living a purposeful life.
In my previous post I expressed my wariness with the so-called meaningful Christian purpose. I stopped short, however, of offering my own “secular” meaning of life. The conservative pundit I quoted in the previous part recognized, more or less, that a non-believer is fully capable of living of meaningful life. This meaning, however, is limited to the ontological realm. The pundit could not see an ultimate, or teleological meaning for a secularist’s life. To many Christians, the atheist’s view is that we are born, we live for ourselves, we die by ourselves. Finito. Apparently, if their god is added to the equation, even if the only purpose is to bow before him, at least it is something. I believe that this has led Christians to adhere to a false dualism that is so present in gnostic paradigms: the material is empty, the spirit is where life is found. Yet everything in observable reality tells us otherwise. The lack of evidence for either a god or heaven leads one to wonder how it is that a theist can have such a pessimistic view of the material realm…
I’m going to be honest. I think that there is one thing that scares humans so much that we make fantasy worlds that flow with milk and honey, worlds that are controlled by perfected beings of enlightened wisdom and ultimate power: the meaninglessness of life. Amongst the fury of passionate arguments in the responses to one of Roopster’s posts, one commenter (#42) randomly proclaimed,
“You are confused yourself Mr. Ape…
Try to understand. Why do you exist? What is your purpose in life? Do you exist to eat, work and sleep? Think again Mr. Ape…”
I shrugged off the comment along with the brutally useless dialogue I had gotten myself into. Yet I have come to understand that this seems to be a core issue whenever religionists of any sort proselytize to secularists, so I bookmarked the comment in my mind and promised myself to get around to it. We all know that the question itself is quite poor from an apologetic standpoint. Christianity, on any level, does not really offer any more “meaning” than any other religious movement. It is, rather, a purely rhetorical device that plays on an individual’s insecurity with who or what they are in the universe. It is used by almost every major religion, almost universally as a evangelical tool, or, at best, an apologetic for belief itself…