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The End?

This is a response to this post, which is itself a response to this one.

I believe, m'dear, that we've pretty much run this subject down. We could keep bouncing evolution arguments back and forth, but as you've pointed out yourself, they're actually irrelevant.

I know that if there were any kind of serious challenge to the theory of evolution, the scientific world would be all a-twitter, but all I hear about is the finding of fossils that fill in yet more intermediate stages in development.

However, again, evolution really is only a "threat" to biblical literalists. It's unclear why, since they've already had to come to terms with the earth not being flat. Most of them even admit the earth goes around the sun...

We come down, in the end, to exactly what I expected: A draw. People have been arguing these points for centuries. One of the major philosophical pursuits through the late middle ages, and leading into the 19th century, was an attempt to prove the existence of God. It's always failed, but then, so has the disproof side.

Still, it's been a fun exercise. I've done a better job of formulating why I think an intelligent primary cause is unlikely, and also why I can't believe in an all-powerful, all-knowing, benevolent entity.

However, again, I can't disprove the existence of a God, and no-one's been able to prove or disprove the existence of Jesus. Apart from the records written a hundred years later, he's pretty badly documented. Pieces of his life seem to be lifted wholesale from other, earlier religions. But then, documentation could be pretty spotty two thousand years ago.

And I certainly can't prove or disprove the existence of a powerful, but subtle, entity that calls itself Jesus. I don't personally have experience with such, and I know we, as humans, can easily project what we want to experience outside of ourselves, but I can't deny the potential existence of such. And, believe it or not, I don't have the hubris to think I'm the most powerful or intelligent being in the universe.

I hope this was fun for you, dear. I'm pretty happy with the result - if I'd actually thought it was possible to convert you, I wouldn't have played. While I like to shake people up a bit, knocking their foundations out from under them is, well, only justifiable in the prevention of great evil. And this whole discussion started from my commenting that your church gave me no such feelings.

Response for today

After reading Bruce's latest response...I am at a loss of what to say. The reason for this is because nothing was contradicted against Christianity. One of the main points brought up was the ridiculousness of not believing in evolution (my word choice, not yours)....to which I repeat from earlier entries:

1)There are scientific evidences toward the disproving of evolution. The coral reefs are a popular example, as are some we already mentioned previously.

2)The bible DOES NOT disagree with evolution. Many "creationists" believe that it does, but anyone who intelligently studies the bible, the evidence presented from it, etc. can clearly see that a series of evolutionary developments are indeed possible.

Do I believe in evolution or creation? I honestly believe in both, which is biblical and okay. The bible does not disagree with science. Scared people who believe their religion will become invalid are afraid of science, which eventually turns into protests and nasty contradictory DVDs offered to non-profits.

I am not afraid of science, the argument of evolution, or anything really, because my strength and confidence is found in a God proven to me time and again through evidence (biblical, archaeological, books written both secularly and religiously, personal experience, etc.), and I know my eternal life is not based in whether or not I come directly from a monkey.

This isn't to say it is right to be ignorant. Quite the opposite in fact! Which leads me to mention of your first illustration...educated Christians who genuinely seek out evidence for their knowledge of God are not "ignoring" other evidences. Again, I am waiting for you to show me a piece of evidence, be it in science, archaeology, etc. - that disproves the existence of Jesus and what he stands for.

I say this because there are always going to be experts flying back and forth on both sides of the issue. Sometimes atheists will win the "argument," and sometimes God supporters will. No matter who wins which argument...it is not relevant in the grand scheme of things, because there is ample evidence to both sides.

There is a point where I think everyone needs to think about two things:

1) What is the purpose of this life?
2) What do I think happens after I die?

Many, with these questions, have prayed. And God does not deny himself to those who pray. I am not talking about "God, prove to me you are real!" prayers, but rather genuine inquiries as to what we are supposed to do here, why we are here, and what is to come. God will not ignore that. God will show himself to those who actually want to know him. We can continue to live as a cynic, or we can get down and dirty with evidence, prayer, and evaluation both physically and spiritually, and come to a conclusion for ourselves.

We could go on forever...me throwing evidence for Christ at you, and you throwing evidence against him at me. And we can thank the countless curious minds who lived before us for the ability to do that on both teams.

However, it again does not change the message of Jesus and his love, and the matter of what happens after we die. I am unconcerned with this world. In fact, I don't even really like it that much. I am concerned with things eternal...because I will be dealing with that for much longer ;)

I'm not avoiding issues - if there are direct questions/challenges you (or anyone else) has, I will be happy to answer them. But this post didn't provide anything like that, so there is little to respond to. Nothing you have said disagrees with Christ and what he stands for...except for the second comic...which I am fairly certain is out of jest. However, it should have read:

"Jesus of Nazareth isn't dead! He will come back as a friend and comfort to those who love him and did their homework toward believing with both faith and, if so compelled, substantial scientific research. So he and his ever-present father can show judgment to EVERYONE, Christian or not. I accept all this on faith, and also through a huge amount of evidence and experience."

Gay or not, alcoholic or not, angry or not, happy or not, - none of these arguments argue the basic tenants of Christianity or, most importantly, having a personal relationship with Christ.

Regarding free will and it's stupidity (again my word choice, not yours)......well, I've experienced forced love plenty of times...and it has never turned out to be a good thing. I am grateful for my free will and that of others, because in my opinion, a genuine love will always be better than a forced one.

And as for this..."I probably have more "spiritual experiences" than most people. I speak in tongues on a regular basis (every now and then I try to discern a grammar, just to see how consistent things are). I occasionally hear very clear voices that aren't there. I have a sometimes quite embarrassing lack of control over my accent. Sometimes I can't even speak. My handwriting varies all over the damn map. I've been known to feel a bit overbalanced when a strong wind catches my wings.And I feel external presences, as well. During a great part of my childhood, one of my chores was setting the table for dinner - and I frequently set an extra place for, well, someone. I frequently thought of them as my brother - who died before I was born.What of this is real? Well, all of it - for me. From a lifetime of observation, its reality stops at the edge of my mind. Now again - from above - I could be wrong. I might have my finger on the ultimate nature of reality. But I rather doubt it."

Perhaps you did :) You should stop assuming that the God of the universe really wants nothing to do with you. In fact, I know for certain he is quite fond of you. And I'll bet, had we lived in biblical times, you could have convinced Jesus to sing a round or two of karaoke.

bye! :)

Starting A New Rock

This is the latest in a series of posts whose last two installments were this post by myself and this post by greeneggsandtam.

I'm actually going to start over, here, because the discussion has rather filled up with irrelevancies. I also need to address some issues brought up by my friend astroaztec, though for some reason he always refers to them obliquely...

And I also despair of my abilities. This is a huge subject, with which far better minds - and authors - have wrestled for generations.

First - and again - the question of Phenomenology, which I grew up calling Existentialism. As he reminded me, there is an absolutely wonderful scene in Dark Star where an intelligent bomb is (temporarily) defused by teaching it the basic tenets.

Which are:
  1. Everything we experience, we experience through senses. In fact "experience" and "sense" are inextricably linked. I've run into authors that try to get around this with phrases like "he was able to sense with his being," which is just a fancy way of saying he had another way of sensing things.

  2. There is no way to tell if those senses are telling us the truth. We've discussed maya, and there is of course the more recent Matrix movies that can be used to understand the concept.
The upshot being that, in the end, not only do we not know what is going on, we never will. This limitation is true for all beings, great, small, or even ultimate creators. There's a wonderful Stanislaw Lem story I've been trying to dig up for a while: Through an extremely unlikely (though in an infinite universe, eventually inevitable) accident, a combination of events in a galactic junk heap creates a functioning, self-aware cybernetic brain, unfortunately without any senses at all. This brain ends up imagining its own, complex, ordered, wonderful universe that lasts until its casing rusts through and it shorts out.

Now, just to make things even bleaker - and to deal with at least one of astroaztec's comments - there's another stage to this:
  1. Our emotions, memories, and even what we are presently thinking (when observed) are also senses.
Which leaves us with a very Zen observation: All we actually know is our own sensation of the moment.

And if I were a Zen monk, I might just be content with that. But I'm not. I want to know more - or at least "know" as much as I can. Which brings us to empirical logic, where one builds a model, then tries to see if it works. Because we can at least tell what doesn't work.

For a slight digression here - and again, a response to astroaztec (my, this is becoming more a game of Chinese checkers than tennis...), I am fairly introspective. While I don't contain multitudes, I'm rather... well populated. With quite an assortment of gods, demons, ghosts, and monsters. I have enough with which to build a full pantheon.

I also, by the way, could quite easily have a number of them exorcised, if I believed in the exorcism. It would likely partially cripple me (my mind, that is), but it would work - because we multiples are very suggestible.

But I'm not going to start a religion based on my internal structure. Because I'm not going to make the mistake of confusing what's in my head with what's going on outside. I'm not even going to make the mistake of thinking that my internal landscape extends into other people's heads. We all have similar brains, so I can imagine others may have similar landscapes - but there's no reason to think they're the same as mine.

I probably have more "spiritual experiences" than most people. I speak in tongues on a regular basis (every now and then I try to discern a grammar, just to see how consistent things are). I occasionally hear very clear voices that aren't there. I have a sometimes quite embarrassing lack of control over my accent. Sometimes I can't even speak. My handwriting varies all over the damn map. I've been known to feel a bit overbalanced when a strong wind catches my wings.

And I feel external presences, as well. During a great part of my childhood, one of my chores was setting the table for dinner - and I frequently set an extra place for, well, someone. I frequently thought of them as my brother - who died before I was born.

What of this is real? Well, all of it - for me. From a lifetime of observation, its reality stops at the edge of my mind. Now again - from above - I could be wrong. I might have my finger on the ultimate nature of reality. But I rather doubt it.

Moving back outside my head, where things are both simpler and more complicated, if we make a few assumptions, such as that there is a unique shared reality, and that at least a few of our senses have something to do with it, we have a wonderful tool for sanding away that which is untrue, and getting closer to that which is true: The scientific method. spondee once posted the following chart, whose accuracy (and size) is hopefully not too irritating:

Using this simple tool, we've been able to perform wonders. Including finding such interesting human behaviors as Conversion Disorder, where, among other things, perfectly healthy human beings may lose a sense such as eyesight or hearing, until, well, something major snaps them out of it.

I'm not really personally interested in hearing about miracle cures until you can report something that's, well, miraculous. Body part regeneration would do - I'd be happy with something as small as a finger, or even a finger joint. And I think I've covered what I think about exorcism pretty well.

Now, the major political weakness to the scientific method is its very strength, which is to admit to the possibility of being wrong, and to correct its model when that happens. Many people just want to "know," and most religions comply with a system that, while it does change (usually because of pesky scientific evidence - damn that Galileo!), does so very slowly.

An excellent example is evolution. The theory of evolution has reigned supreme in scientific circles since shortly after the time of Darwin. There is no competing theory that has even come close to challenging it, and no evidence contradicting it has come to light. There are, however, always questions of the fine details of the process (such as the old "punctuated equilibrium" vs "gradual change" views). These are frequently grabbed at as evidence that "biologists are divided on evolution," which while technically true does not mean that any of them are arguing against it.

There's an absolutely wonderful NOVA episode on the Dover school board decision - and why a conservative judge ruled that ID should not be taught in a science classroom. It does a better job of covering the subject than I ever could.

Moving on, I'm not even going to talk about the bible or Jesus here. I keep getting bogged down there, because, you see, they're irrelevant to me, which is why I've never studied the Bible. When you have a basic problem with deism, the details of a particular deistic religion are not all that important.

There is, for example, the primary cause question. One of the things that is difficult for human beings to accept is that of time beginning - we always want to know what happened before that. Many people prefer to think that a supreme creator popped into being, and then created the universe. Which is very much like saying that a supercomputer popped into being, and created the electron. If a complex creator is necessary to explain the universe as it is, then perforce an even more complex creator is necessary to create the first one - and so on, going back. This is patently absurd.

The big bang theory is still the prevalent one, by the way, though there are quite a number of variants. The main challenger I know of postulates an infinite series of bangs and collapses.

Then of course there's that whole nasty perfection problem, which shows up when you assume the existence of absolutes. I made a mediocre post on the problem of evil, but the best known formulation is from Epicurus:
  • Is God willing to prevent evil, but not able? Then he is not omnipotent.

  • Is he able, but not willing? Then he is malevolent.

  • Is he both able and willing? Then whence cometh evil?

  • Is he neither able nor willing? Then why call him God?
The only argument I've seen on this is that rather weak "free will" one.

You know, the whole "we're being tested by God" thing. Which is all very nice, except it directly implies that God is powerless to create a being that doesn't need testing. You know - we have all seven deadly sins, baked right in as biological imperatives. In varying amounts from person to person.

And depending on brain injuries, we may, for example, become hypersexual. It seems very odd that we are held to these strict rules, when a blow to the head can make us hump everything that moves.

By the way, I tried to bypass the controversy on the whole gay thing with my original post, but only talking about the attraction aspect. There's ample evidence to support a major biological source for homosexuality. You could, for example, read this 1997 review article, or the fact that gay sheep have a biological orientation. I read a nice recent Scientific American review article a couple of years back, but I can't seem to find it right now.

From what I've seen and read, the only reason the "treatment" programs work is a change in terminology. I say a man is gay if he's sexually attracted to other men. The programs say he's gay only if he actually has sex with them. And the programs change the latter. Which might be connected to the high recidivism and suicide rates.

Which, by the way, brings out one observation that only occurred to me a few years ago. If someone talks about the "insidious attraction of the gay lifestyle," they're almost certainly gay themselves. Because, quite honestly, straight men find no attraction in having sex with men.

I think I've covered the main issues here (I hope so - it's been over four hours, and I need some sleep), except for this, from the inestimable I Drew This:

The point is simple enough: Just because it's an old idea, and just because many others believe it too, doesn't make it any less crazy.

Aaaaannnddd back to you!
These are just the comments from kor27's journal that i am copying onto here just to keep in line with the community and what we are discussing. It is confusing when he posts things on his regular blog, because then I get too lazy to come over to the community, but hey I guess it is good for me to get un lazy so post away, buddy ;)

anyway....


</b></a>greeneggsandtam
2007-11-11 06:20 am (UTC)

Hey you,

Thanks so much for this latest post. I love reading your viewpoints, but I think you would agree that if I were to post a comic about homosexuality, athiesm, or anything else that shows a lack of respect...then you would probably get pretty fired up.

The things you say about God, the whole "changing his mind" thing, isn't biblical or really even what Christians believe. I would love to share the heart of God with you and what I've gained knowledge about regarding it, but it is just turning into a bash fest that I usually remove myself from.

I haven't been personally offended, so please don't take this as anger or me trying to disrespect you (because hello, you know I think you are awesome!) but it seems that at this place in time you aren't really into appreciating each other's viewpoints, but rather just kind of want to put them down.

You can challenge the validity of Jesus, and we can throw back proof of this and proof of that, but it all seems pretty futile if we are going to throw in hurtful comics and things that are just totally irrelevant and off topic, you know?

ANYWAY, totally still respond to my response previously if you want to and I will do my best to answer any sincere questions you might have.

Hope your dessert was good. I had BIRTHDAY CAKE ICE CREAM from Baskin Robbins tonight. It is flipping amazing. I hope the bay area chains have it too so you can share in my joy at an ice cream parlor near you ;)

</a></b></a>kor27
2007-11-11 12:53 pm (UTC)

I'm sorry, dear. I actually start out these things trying to discuss the matter somewhat dispassionately. Then I run into kind of a triple threat:

  • I have a tendency to make everything into a joke. Whether I want to or not. I've made posts about how miserable and suicidal I feel, and had people tell me the next day how much they laughed...

  • I have a never ever been able to understand the attraction people feel to the story of the crucifixion, pretty much for the reasons I've presented. I realize the comic is crude, but it also makes some very valid points.

  • While I no longer have the rage against Christianity in general, and Catholicism in particular, that I did in my youth, I still find myself falling into old ways. And, in fact, from the larger point of view of deism, I find I prefer the thought of no god far preferable, simply because any god that would allow things to become such a mess is no god worthy of my respect.
But even so, despite the tone - and again, I apologize for the tone - I am trying to hold a sensible discussion.

Though I have to say I didn't start this tennis match with the intent, necessarily, of "asking sincere questions." As I understood the ground rules, you're trying to convert me, and I'm trying to convert you, with the tacit assumption that neither of us is really going to change the other's mind.

My hope for this exercise was to allow us both to hone our own arguments a little bit, and possibly understand each other's points of view a bit better.

I mean, it would be nice if I could honestly get an inkling as to why the whole crucifixion thing resonates so strongly with you guys, just as an example.

Also - if you feel like posting conservative and anti-gay comics, go right ahead, m'dear. I probably won't agree with them.

But I might laugh.

Your dessert sounds awesome - mine was too: Cinnabon cheesecake. Though I was still reeling from the appetizer: Deep-fried mac'n'cheese. The only way that could have been better was if they'd somehow added bacon.
</a></b></a>greeneggsandtam
2007-11-11 06:24 am (UTC)

and huh...I am confused. Who said Christians don't believe in the partaking of alcohol? I just had a mimosa last weekend...uh oh...hope they don't kick me out ;)

</a></b></a>kor27
2007-11-11 01:12 pm (UTC)

I didn't say all Christians don't believe in the partaking of alcohol.

A quick rundown of standard Eucharist practices and beliefs (yes, it's Wikipedia again) finds that the Methodists use grape juice, and the Mormons use water.

Both groups consider themselves Christian. From what I understand (separately), both avoid wine because alcohol is bad, mmm'kay?

I certainly wasn't trying to imply that you, particularly, were of that belief. :-)

</a></b></a>greeneggsandtam
2007-11-11 04:42 pm (UTC)

ohhhh okay i get it now. Yeah a lot of churches use grape juice instead of wine because of not wanting to trigger recovering alcoholics, etc. It;s more of a courtesy thing than anything else. My church actually does have grape juice, and I am so glad because i think wine is gross. And i really don't want to have to vomit in my mouth every time we have communion.

Witnessing ...

Last evening after supper I decided to stroll up to the store. As I approached the corner at 83rd Ave. there were 8-10 people (young people) standing at the corner. It turns out they were from a small local Church and they were standing there preaching and handing out a little flyer to their Church. One of them however had a bullhorn and was attempting to tell people about salvation.

No issue here in this entry in regard to the law, the right to stand on any street corner in America and preach Jesus, but rather the issue of witnessing. We are to obey the laws of the land unless they cause us to sin.

It should be noted for those who may not have already figured it out, I am the worst witness for Christ you will probably meet in this lifetime. I know the way and the truth, but still sometimes (all too often) don't practice what I know to be true. I haven't yet conquered all my wicked ways.

The question here is: how are followers of Christ supposed to share his message? By standing on a street corner shoving the Gospel down peoples throats through a loudspeaker? By the way we live our own lives? Do you know how closely people watch how we live? Uh oh Doug :( These were good kids spending their Saturday night sharing Christ, not a bunch of hoodlums causing trouble. You find the trouble with that. Church isn't just about gathering together in a building hoping someone passing by might drop in. My attitude towards these young people taking to the street is: I wish I saw them more often. To those and one I saw who was cursing them is: tough. With all the bad things they could have been doing they chose to stand on a street corner and share the Gospel.

Oftentimes I write things more for myself, but will post them publicly in my journal or maybe here.

Continued From Last Rock Part 3

This is the third part of a response to this discussion started in this post. The first part is here, and the second here. When greeneggsandtam started responding to this, she found that she had to break up her response into 6 fragments, and so suggested we continue in this community.

This particular section is a response to her comments in part 4, items 6 and 7. It makes a lot more sense if you read her items (and maybe some of the back discussion), and then follow here.

6) Well, yes, I think that if God had said "OK, my bad, let's start over," that there would have been a larger effect. Can you imagine the effects of, say, every person in the world having the same dream at the same time? And that's just an off-the-cuff example. As far as "dying for our sins" is concerned, the latest Jesus and Mo puts it better than I ever could:

Let's just stop here and consider a couple of things - things brought up very effectively by that comic. We're told God had a change of heart because of Jesus' sacrifice. So he changed his requirements for his people, and "opened the club," so to speak.

Except God is supposedly omnipotent, omniscient, and sent Jesus here for that purpose.

So, rather than just doing the right thing in the first place, He (being omniscient) decides it would be good to screw up, then change direction after, quite effectively, slaughtering his own child.

This is not the behavior of a sane being.

My whole "water into wine" comment was mostly for fun - especially poking fun at the sects that substitute grape juice. Some quick research points out that wine was indeed less potent then - about 3-5% alcohol, or about similar to beer.

Getting drunk was quite a possibility - and likely happened, especially since the wine was supposed to be served starting with the good stuff, because no-one would be able to tell the bad stuff later. I find it amusing that churches that don't believe in the partaking of any sort of alcohol are based on this individual.

7) There are many reasons why people lie to start a religion, and continue to lie to maintain it. The most common seems to be a feeling that everyone else's story is true, so why not make it even more believable by adding in one little lie?

Not only that, but from far better scholars than I, there's the question of whether Jesus ever existed at all. A nice little summary - Religious Tolerance does its best to present all sides of an issue.

I'd complete the series, but I'm just about finished with dessert, and my battery's giving out.

And then I can get started on the response to your response!
I am going to start responding to these, as all 8 would take me a lifetime to do at once :) Hope this doesn't make it all too confusing!!!!

From what I've seen - and mirroring some of what you said - one of the "jumps" between the old and new testaments is the transition from "My God" to "The God." I believe it's rather telling that the second commandment is "You shall have no other gods before me," mostly because it freely admits to the existence of other gods. In fact, the phrase even indicates that paying some passing respect to another god is fine.

 Ooooh an easy one! (phew) ;) The New Testament actually focuses on a “My God” due to the fact that it is all about personal relationship and personal salvation. The Old Testament also focuses on “My God” in the sense that Israel knew themselves to be the chosen ones. Does this mean that God did not love other tribes/nations? Nope! See New Testament. Christ’s whole schtick was that he was a missionary and a light for those who were OUTSIDE of the law, etc. So in both cases there is a strong emphasis on “My God.” I can provide scripture references upon request, but like you said, you bore easily ;)

 As for “you shall have no other gods before me.” It isn’t admitting to the existence of other Gods. It records in the OT and NT a lot about people worshipping golden calves, greek gods/goddesses, Egyptian polytheistic gods, etc. These ‘gods” are not considered to be true. They are considered to be false idols or distractions. Some of the gods were so outlandish that it would be like me putting a ballpoint pen on an alter and worshipping it. But it is still called a “god” because that is the word for it. There is a difference between ‘god” and God. If you’re catholic, then the Madonna is not the same thing as Madonna….you know? :)

 I don’t really see how it shows a passing respect to other gods. I think that is an odd interpretation of that, but however you read it, it does not disprove the message of God’s love and the salvation deal….which is what this discussion is about.



So all I can really say is that, from my limited exposure, I've haven't seen much evidence of a loving god. A vengeful one, definitely. Worlds flooded (though, um, it seems some wives appeared from "non-peoples" there, too), towns razed to the ground, kings punished for not killing off women and children - just a whole world of nastiness.
And yes, something must be done when a rule is broken. But there's something wrong with any being whose standard punishment for any transgression appears to be death for you, your family, your slaves, your livestock, and frequently your neighbors.

So I guess you're just going to have to come up with some examples of this all-pervading OT love you're talking about.

I think you said it right there in that first sentence where you talk about having “limited exposure.” What you are presuming as truth about God isn’t true, and it isn’t proven unless you take scripture totally out of context. When we don’t fully study or know all the facts (and I had to ask several people to verify this one to me, so don’t think I am trying to minimize your intelligence), it is very easy to create a god with a nature and character that isn’t consistent with the God revealed through the Bible. In which case, when a person reads the bible with presumptions that have been presented to them as fact (ie: the whole “jesus made wine and isn’t drunkenness wrong?” philosophy, even though it is a well-known historical fact that people drank wine because water was unsafe, and the wine of that time period had about as high of an alcohol content as one of today’s wine coolers…aw, biblical kool-aid at the wedding, party over!), then it is easy for us to view a God different than what He truly is. There is a basic principle that needs to be grasped before an intelligent conclusion can be made to this argument. One could argue that on the same note, having positive presumptions could lead to the same sort of experience in reverse , hence  Christians, but if you are truly basing your knowledge on historical context and also literal context (ie who the story was geared toward), then this is difficult to do.

 I am meeting with my pastor about this, (mainly because I want to learn from someone who has studied dead sea scrolls and all that fun stuff that brings more validity than just “feelings”), and until then if you want a more “Christian” answer, here you go….

 The fact is we live in a fallen world and everything you mentioned is a consequence of sin.  As parents we hold our children to a standard because we love them and by conforming to that standard they don’t get hurt.  God’s standard for his creation is the same. Jesus asks of us to accept that He is the way to go.  He demonstrated His love for us through His death on the cross thereby paying the price for our fallen nature. All of these side issues are the way of confusing the issue (confusing…not avoiding)….and the truth of the matter is again, none of this disproves either the existence of Christ, His message, or proof otherwise.

As far as being able to take on faith that there's some good reason why Jesus showed up so many years later, well, that is perfectly fine, if you're one of the faithful. This is one of those mindset problems.

 Yeah I totally agree with that. But at the same time, can you explain to me every single aspect of anything? I think it is a mindset that, as humans, we unfortunately have by nature (or evolution). We only use a small percentage of our brains. Kind of unfortunate.


I just can't help thinking of all those generations of people that were completely screwed simply because they were born too early.

Salvation was found just as freely in the OT as it is in the new, unfortunately people do not focus on that very much. There are countless references to a savior coming, the redeemer of the Jews, and other overtly dramatic references. Point being, those people who were waiting on that Savior, were just as “saved” as those who were in the presence of one in the NT and beyond. Does that make sense?

Christ brought freedom from the law, but at the same time, the law brought freedom. Yes, the timing is something to ponder. But it does not take away the message of salvation or the rules of it. God is a just God, and he isn’t going to send people to Hell, purgatory, whatever you believe in for the sake of discussion….because they cannot control the timing of their birth. There is salvation in Christ found in many forms. The same can be said of early Native Americans and remote locations in the world where the gospel has not been heard. Christ reveals himself in many ways – not just through missionaries and the New Testament. In our western world, that is the most common way. But we have to remember that is not the only way.

On the "free will" thing - I don't have a huge problem with a being wanting to be loved freely. Seems a tad insecure, but OK.

Isn’t forced love with no choice a sign of insecurity? I don’t know…

 

 I have a little more problem with said being creating rules, and then creating creatures with built-in instincts to transgress those rules. If you don't want gays, don't build men who are only attracted to other men.

There have been countless incidents of homosexual men and women transitioning out of  that lifestyle. Please hear me on this. This one is sensitive, since I have many gay friends who I respect, admire, and love. Speaking from a biblical standpoint, homosexuality is a sin. But that does not make a gay person any less than anyone else, since we ALL sin and God sees ALL sin the same. We are not to judge gay people, and I do not look down on them. I am a bigger sinner, I have proved that to myself time and again! :) We are only called to love as Jesus loved, and if he were walking the earth today in physical form, he’d be at those gay bars.

God did not “build” men who are attracted to other men. A lot has to do with not only sin and free will but culture, lifestyle, childhood trauma, previous example, etc. That is complicated, but it all does come down to the same concept. God created human will so we could actually have a choice and return genuine love. Playing the “gay” card on me doesn’t really help the argument because the same could be said for why did god “build” alcoholics? Why did god “build” murderers? Why did god “build” pollution and global warming? It is all about choice, and the fact that we have a choice as to how to live our life is a beautiful thing because then our knowledge and closeness to God is genuine.

And most importantly, if you do that, don't get your panties in a wad when people don't measure up. There are so many transgressions that are an automatic damning. I mean, doubt his existence for even a second, and that's it, man, game over: Go to hell, do not collect $200.

Answered above. Who gets their panties in a wad? Fallible people and extremist churches? Or God himself? Nine times out of 10 (if not all 10), it is people. NO transgression is automatically damning if you accept the whole Jesus concept. And doing so is the easiest thing in the world, and even if you truly intellectualize it and study it, it’s still the easiest thing in the world. Following him is not so simple sometimes….but your guaranteed salvation is.

Returning back to part 1 and Pascal’s Wager….

For example, a Catholic would see the wager as a reason to go to Mass, while a Muslim would see it as a reason to always perform the five requisite daily prayers. From which one can begin to see that the problem is one of "betting" on one of a nearly infinite number of possible beliefs, most of which contradict each other.
The wager becomes something more like a dart throw from a plane about a mile up.

Christianity has no ritual engrained into it that assures our salvation. While Muslims believe the five requisites of daily prayers is essential, and Catholics believe that you need to say the rosary to pray someone’s soul out of eternal damnation – Christianity (a Christ-based, biblically based version since obviously Catholics consider themselves to be Christian…)…does not give you a punch card when you go to church. There is nothing within my faith that compels me to go to church in order to be guaranteed anything. Again, I have yet to find a religion less-fallible than Christianity, and so that is where my ‘wager” is, so to speak. I’ve traveled the world, I’ve been exposed to countless religions, the “double” in my double-majored B.A. is in religious studies from a non-religious, secular university, and in my immediate family alone there are 5 different religions running rampant. There are a lot of places I could have thrown my dart….but Christianity, from my study, research, experiences shared from others and my own experiences – has shown me that my wager has a pretty darn good chance of being correct. Again, feel free to present to me other horses in the race with a chance to win. I never want to be ignorant or self-assuming.

As far as the whole thing about "feel" is concerned - that's probably the best word. If I understand what you're saying, you feel anchored, and have an absolute frame of reference for the world. While there are emotional components, I'd say that's more of a sensation than an emotion.

Meh. Not really. As you can probably get the gist of from my personal blog, being a Christian often shakes up my frame of reference for the world because there are so many other viewpoints that come into my life. I have never been one to believe in something based in my emotions alone – that was proven to be a bad idea long ago in my life. I need to have some sort of intellectual justification as well, and the study of various ancient and historical texts and artifacts have confirmed that up for me pretty well. There is a “feeling” of peace and love that comes with being a Christian, but there is also a ‘feeling” of discomfort and a burden a lot of the time. I don’t get a god high from what I believe, if that is what you meant.

Science has proven the world is not flat or on pillars. But it hasn’t proven that the bible isn’t true. If the prophesies and miracles and records are all false…what a fantastic PR stunt! TMZ only WISHES they had lived in biblical times ;) Could you imagine the ratings?!?!?

It's amazing to me how a few fanatics can call themselves scientists, repackage creationism by labeling it "intelligent design" (which, though not even matching the definition of a hypothesis, is somehow a "theory"), and sell it to a credulous public that will then go on about a "multitude of publications." There certainly is no such multitude in any of the serious peer-reviewed journals.

Actually there are. Tell me how many you consider to be a fair multitude, and I will send you a list. At the same time, evolution or not, intelligent design or not, it still does not conflict with the message of Christ. There is no reason why God’ s creation could not have included evolution. While I personally do not believe in it, I do not doubt it could be true and I have not found anything in the bible directly contradicting it.

Human beings obviously have evolved. Wisdom teeth are a great example. We don’t need them. In fact, I didn’t get mine. Why? Because I got one of the newly evolved human body models in which to dwell, I suppose! But I am stoked for evolution so I didn’t have to have oral surgery! Wahoo! So again, evolution and creation isn’t even the argument (is it?) because it doesn’t disprove the validity of anything on either side.

While I'm not arguing against the bible, per se, I am arguing against the existence of an ultimate entity. Granted, purely from the standpoint of Occam's Razor.

Following Occam’s razor and it’s “ex parsimoniee”  (or however you spell it) mentality, then I guess my question for you would be show me a simpler explanation. The bible (both OT and NT) makes references to us having to learn very childish spiritual things in order to understand. Jesus often was quoted as saying that children get it, but we do not. The whole concept of God is, God was, and God will be….and here is multitudes of evidence through not only ancient texts but archaeology, supernatural occurrences (NOT the virgin mary appearing in a tortilla…ugh!), and most importantly personal experience and encounters, seems the easiest to me. Your court on that one.

If an incredibly complex entity is required to create what is, as far as we can tell, a much less complex universe, then what even more complex entity was necessary to create the first one? And so on, going back forever.

Since we’ve already covered that the bible does in fact agree with evolution and scientists have all but thrown out the big bang theory (which would still have to explain who created the bang?), etc. etc. Show me a solution to this. The most valid of evidence, both religiously and practically, points to a higher being. You are right, I cannot explain who created the existence of God. But again….only use a percentage of my brain. In essence, this still does not disprove the message of Christ, salvation, heaven/hell, etc. Don’t really know how to answer this one because I don’t know what you are asking? No matter what the reason, you cannot deny we exist. Unless you agree with the buddhist idealism of everything in this world being an illusion. In which case....who's illusion, and how are we all managing to have the same one?

Final note…

 The Noble Eightfold Path, that you mentioned earlier, (along with its sister philosophy the Four Noble Truths), again do not conflict with the bible. In fact, it sounds a lot like an Eastern-influenced Ten Commandments, doesn’t it? Even the whole concept of “karma” is true in the sense that what goes around definitely does come around. I don’t see any issue here that conflicts with the message of Christ. What I want to know is, what happens after you die? I try my best to live sincerely in THIS world, but the OTHER world is gonna be a lot longer. What do you believe happens?

Continued From Last Rock Part 2

This is the second part of a response to this discussion started in this post. The first part is here. When greeneggsandtam started responding to this, she found that she had to break up her response into 6 fragments, and so suggested we continue in this community.

This particular section is a response to her comments in part 2, items 3 and 4. It makes a lot more sense if you read her items (and maybe some of the back discussion), and then follow here.

3) This is a particularly difficult section for me to respond to, from a couple of points.

For one thing, I'm far from being a bible scholar. My parents encouraged me to read the bible when I was younger, as an important cultural document. Unfortunately, at that age, I obsessively read things front to back - and completely ran out of interest somewhere in the tribal genealogy. As I understand it, most oral traditions involve some level of frequently repeated birth record. I just wasn't prepared to run into one that had been so reprinted, and then studied by people who weren't even related.

For another, we're going to approach the book from completely different mindsets. I'm reasonably good at getting my head into other people's realities, but I'm still going to be largely looking at it as an interesting mish-mash of mythology and tribal record, which has since been retranslated too many times for its own good.

Your Adam and Eve thing is a very cogent example. Most tribal groups consider themselves the only real people, and their creation myths are about their creation. It's not particularly difficult then to make sense of Adam and Eve being the first people, having many children, and those children finding spouses - from the already existing pool of "non-people."

From what I've seen - and mirroring some of what you said - one of the "jumps" between the old and new testaments is the transition from "My God" to "The God." I believe it's rather telling that the second commandment is "You shall have no other gods before me," mostly because it freely admits to the existence of other gods. In fact, the phrase even indicates that paying some passing respect to another god is fine.

So all I can really say is that, from my limited exposure, I've haven't seen much evidence of a loving god. A vengeful one, definitely. Worlds flooded (though, um, it seems some wives appeared from "non-peoples" there, too), towns razed to the ground, kings punished for not killing off women and children - just a whole world of nastiness.

And yes, something must be done when a rule is broken. But there's something wrong with any being whose standard punishment for any transgression appears to be death for you, your family, your slaves, your livestock, and frequently your neighbors.

So I guess you're just going to have to come up with some examples of this all-pervading OT love you're talking about.

As far as being able to take on faith that there's some good reason why Jesus showed up so many years later, well, that is perfectly fine, if you're one of the faithful. This is one of those mindset problems.

I just can't help thinking of all those generations of people that were completely screwed simply because they were born too early.

On the "free will" thing - I don't have a huge problem with a being wanting to be loved freely. Seems a tad insecure, but OK. I have a little more problem with said being creating rules, and then creating creatures with built-in instincts to transgress those rules. If you don't want gays, don't build men who are only attracted to other men.

And most importantly, if you do that, don't get your panties in a wad when people don't measure up. There are so many transgressions that are an automatic damning. I mean, doubt his existence for even a second, and that's it, man, game over: Go to hell, do not collect $200.

4) Ah, the whole Hindu/Buddhist thing. I'm actually less enamored of Buddhism than I used to be, but there are still a number of fascinating concepts.

First of all, maya, which I mentioned earlier. Maya is simply the concept that all we see is illusion. The original concept of The Matrix, if you will. I'm not sure why I find it all that interesting, but I do.

Moving on to Buddhism proper, I find the eigthfold path to be an excellent map for how to live a life. Just the general concept that both asceticism and hedonism are ridiculous extremes to be avoided appeals to my sense of what's right.

Of course, the fact that you're doing so in hopes that you're going to die and finally stay dead doesn't.

Ah well. Can't have everything.

Moving on to part 3, item 5:

While I'm not arguing against the bible, per se, I am arguing against the existence of an ultimate entity. Granted, purely from the standpoint of Occam's Razor.

If an incredibly complex entity is required to create what is, as far as we can tell, a much less complex universe, then what even more complex entity was necessary to create the first one? And so on, going back forever.

If, instead - and as seems likely - the universe is the result of a few very simple rules, while it's certainly possible that everything initially crystallized into that extremely complex entity, who then created everything else, it definitely isn't probable.

Especially since we have more and more of a model for those simple rules resulting in all there is today.

You can certainly ask how those rules came into existence, and I can't tell you. But I think it's the height of conceit to imagine that an intelligence was necessary for their creation.

And that's it for this installment. I need to get up for my "day"...

Continued From Last Rock Part 1

To avoid confusion, this is a continuation of this discussion started in this post. When greeneggsandtam started responding to this, she found that she had to break up her response into 6 fragments, and so suggested we continue in this community.

I'm going to need to support my statements with a certain amount of research, so I'm likely only going to be responding to part 1 here.

1) The phrase "I'd rather be wrong in the end by believing than taking a risk by not" has a slight hint of Pascal's Wager to it. The cited article does a better rundown of the problems with the concept than I could, but I'd simply like to point out the usual fallacy in this type of argument: Most people will think of the question of following their own set of beliefs - or not.

For example, a Catholic would see the wager as a reason to go to Mass, while a Muslim would see it as a reason to always perform the five requisite daily prayers. From which one can begin to see that the problem is one of "betting" on one of a nearly infinite number of possible beliefs, most of which contradict each other.

The wager becomes something more like a dart throw from a plane about a mile up.

As far as the whole thing about "feel" is concerned - that's probably the best word. If I understand what you're saying, you feel anchored, and have an absolute frame of reference for the world. While there are emotional components, I'd say that's more of a sensation than an emotion.

You've largely described one of the huge advantages to having any type of dogmatic viewpoint: That sensation of knowing precisely where you are and what you need to do. I've read in a couple of places (I unfortunately don't have the citations) that this is a possible reason for an evolutionary advantage to religious belief. Social groups bonded by such beliefs tend to show more altruistic behavior, resulting in benefits for the group as a whole.

2) There are Christians and Christians, m'dear. This country accounts for quite a number of biblical literalists. For example (from that same article), 47.8% of evangelical protestants and 11% of mainline protestants believe the bible is literally true.

Those numbers are a little fuzzy, because pretty much all Christians pick and choose to some extent. Again, from the same article, few people believe the earth is flat and sitting on pillars. I hope.

Still, I will agree with you that most Christians are not literalists, and believe that the stories in the bible are largely allegorical. Which I think allows for a much saner mind - just for an example, I gather Genesis 1 and 2 disagree about the order of creation. Attempting to reconcile that sort of contradiction does things to one.

And there are quite a number of Christian scientists (As opposed to Christian Scientists, which are another breed entirely...). Though I have to say... Irreducible Complexity? Really, dear? It's amazing to me how a few fanatics can call themselves scientists, repackage creationism by labeling it "intelligent design" (which, though not even matching the definition of a hypothesis, is somehow a "theory"), and sell it to a credulous public that will then go on about a "multitude of publications." There certainly is no such multitude in any of the serious peer-reviewed journals.

You can read about the evolution of the eye here. If you're tired of me quoting Wikipedia (One does need to take them with a grain of salt, but somehow they have the most understandable articles), you can try here.

If the eye were the result of a designer, by the way, we would have some right to complain about the engineering. The nerves that carry the signal to the brain reside, for no good reason, on the top of the retina. They're reasonably transparent, but because of the position, the bundle has to punch through the retina somewhere to join the optic nerve. Hence the blind spot.

You can follow up on some of the other details of I.D. (Incompetent Design) here.

And that's all I got for today. Even I have to sleep sometime. I'll hopefully be able to get to items 3 through 8 shortly.

'Heart' touching stories ...

I posted this in my journal a bit earlier and thought I would post it here too.

Some heartwarming and some heartbreaking stories, but literally all about the heart. I found this web site accidentally while looking for something else and have spent all morning reading through all the stories. It'll make you feel blessed and thankful. The biggest problem most of them encounter is traveling to get there. It's nice to know that amongst all the awful things that occur daily in this world that there are good people trying to help one another.

Shevet Achim