View Single Post
Old 04-16-2008, 12:35 AM   #50
Jvstice
Junior Member
 
Jvstice's Avatar
 
Join Date: Aug 2007
Posts: 382
Quote:
Originally Posted by Achilles
Okay. So for the purposes of this part of the conversation, you're not going to comment on the first three questions because they are based on the commonly held belief that god loves us and answers our prayers. Fair enough.
Just it may or may not be true. It's not a dogmatic thing to me on either side whether someone who hasn't at this point entered into a relationship with God is or is not loved by God.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Achilles
Well according to theologians and apologists, the bible does *shrugs*.
Some theologians. And others not.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Achilles
Probably good that we're acknowledging that you have your own flavor of christianity here. Difficult to answer questions about god's nature if you have your own take on what that is. The obvious question I'm dying to ask is why *your* version is "right" and these others are "wrong" is probably fodder for another thread through.
I don't think it would be possible to carry on an honest discussion without admitting biases, so I did.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Achilles
Suffice it to say that many christians do believe that god loves them and answers their prayers and these individuals will hopefully opt to try to answer these important questions at some point.
And hopefully they'll be better off for facing their doubts. That's really the only way a person can make their faith their own. And it's really not until you've come out the other end of doubt that you can be said to have faith at all. (I differentiate faith from belief in this. Faith is trust. Belief is intellectual assent. Intellectually believing that a chair will hold your mass is a different thing than trusting your weight to it).


Quote:
Originally Posted by Achilles
Okay, and how do you know what it said when it was originally given?
That's why it's best to be extremely lenient what you advocate for other people's actions to be or how you judge them, and go with the stricter standard in regards to oneself. At least that's the way I try to see things.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Achilles
Agreed, but if that's all we have to go on, how does one know what it said *before* it was changed? Seems to me the best we can do is guess. Wouldn't you agree?
Often. Though there are certain near universals that most major groups agree on.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Achilles
That's cool. But if you've decided to use your own powers of observation and deduction to determine right, wrong, etc, why choose to have religion at all?
Because my faith in God has and does bring increased meaning to my life.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Achilles
This is the thing that get's me: it's almost like getting sucked into a black hole. Once you pass the event horizon, there's no going back. So if one chooses to accept theism, it would seem to me that it would be of paramount importance to figure out which flavor is right and then do every single thing that ideology told me to do. It's like knowing that daddy will whoop the bejesus outta ya for riding your bike in the house, but doing it anyway. If you're going to accept god, it seems to me the smart money is in doing it all the way.
Well the one thing I keep coming back to is grace. One time, Jesus gave the example of a Pharisee and a Saducee both approaching God in prayer. He'd already said that the Pharisees were much closer to God's actual views on a lot of their theology than the saducees. The basic point of the parable was that the Pharisee just prayed "thank you for making me myself," where the saducee prayed "have mercy on me, a sinner." The saducee is portrayed as recieving god's approval and forgiveness.

That and other things lead me to believe its' not primarily a matter of being right, but being humble about your own view of things.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Achilles
As much grief as I give the fundamentalists, I have to tell you, they're the ones who's actions make the most sense to me.
Perhaps in terms of doctrine. Not to me in terms of actions matching their beliefs.

I have control over my own actions. I don't have control over the actions of others, nor do I aspire to have that kind of power in order to bring what I percieve as right to be used against others who see things differently than me.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Achilles
Not trying to convince anyone of anything. If you answer the questions honestly, I don't have to.
I haven't tried to be dishonest. I largely entered this discussion because I didn't like the either or presented in the video and thought best to include enough of my own approach within Christianity to show that there is a vast segment to whom the guy in the video's thought process is largely irrelevant, though not wholely off the mark.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Achilles
The reality is that your take is one opinion. Fundamental catholocism is another. Mormonism a third, et cetera, et cetera. If you want pass your opinion off as fact, then yes, I imagine that we are both going to have to address that at some point. However, if you acknowledge that you interpretation has equal weight and is as equally valid as any of these others then I don't think there's any conflict.
I don't think I've attacked the validity of those interpretations of reality. I do have some problems with the power grabbing elements within any religion in that they use their religion as an excuse rather than a tool to get closer to God at that point, but that's a matter of behavior, and not belief. I know what I believe, and I am willling to learn from anyone. Yes. I do learn from you as well even if you think I'm totally closed minded to all you have to say.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Achilles
Of course, you are still left to resolve the question as to why the bible has so much bad information in it, but that's not something that you and I necessarily need to discuss any more so than you care to.
Either way. I don't feel the need to reconcile genesis 1 & genesis 2 or the like.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Achilles
I understand the sentiment, but I guess I don't understand why. They're just behaving like the bible tells them to. Of course, the problem is that other messages can be cherry picked out of the bible too.
I disagree with the word "just." There is no mandate for a culture war. Frequently in the Bible, both old and new testaments, God's people are shown suffering under cruel rulers and told to bear up. And the ones that often meet God's approval aren't either the ones that let all injustice pass, nor are they the ones that act militant and have a predisposition to rebel against their leaders. Frequently what you see in biblical heroes is a person who starts out not looking to be the center of things, but that they are thrust into a unique position where if they do rebel, that certainly wasn't their first inclination.

I have a dispute with the whole posture of being predisposed to rebel against hte greater society in the name of God or against a president because you don't like his politics. If a specific issue requires being rebelled against to bring change, that's one thing. It is wrong to come at things with the predisposition that it needs to be rebelled against though. You see the difference?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Achilles
Sure. No doubt it also contains some great stuff too, but that doesn't mean that it doesn't have it's share of whoppers as well.
Specific examples you're refering to?
Quote:
Originally Posted by Achilles
Ok, so what is the old testament then? And how do you feel about the parts of the new testament that advocate the positions laid out in the old testament?
Personally what do I think? The word testament means covenant. The Old Testament or covenant was God's covenant with the Israelite/Hebrew/ and later Jewish people, and had specific terms and conditions spelled out for both parties.

The New Testament /Covenant is a 1 sided covenant where God says God will save whomever he chooses regardless of any merit of the individual being chosen. And if you're chosen, then something in your mind and heart will find that a good thing and draw you towards God, and changing you. And if you're not, you won't really have any internal draw to that point of view anyway and find nothing really compelling about Christianity or following Christ.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Achilles
Well, just as you have arbitrarily determined that these verses are meaningless, they have arbitrarily determined that they are not. Let's be fair: if you get to pick and choose and call it "good" then so do they.
I haven't denied that anybody does a certain amount of that either consciously or unconsciously. But I do it to apply to my own life, or answer what I think when asked. Not all of them are willing to return the courtesy of leaving it at personal application. They betray a major principle to push a more minor one.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Achilles
Well, technically they have orders from god to kill us, so forgive me if I don't considering school prayer as "militant" as you do.
Orders from God to kill us? That doesnt' appear in the new testament any where, and I certainly don't recall seeing it as a general kill everyone thing in the old testament.

Saying that "we've been marginalized and persecuted" then reacting to a percieved persecution in such a way that people that are still forming their opinions about what you are all about react hostilly is counterproductive, no matter what they think. The Jesus camp video illustrates this happening better than anything else I could say.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Achilles
Sir, it sounds as though you've opted to cherry pick your "ground rules". You're not the first and you won't be the last, but let's at least acknowledge that fact.
Actually, I look at if people use their faith primarily as personal application, or as a weapon or tool to control others as my main criteria. My main complaint against most fundamentalists and fundamentalist groups isnt' that they're fundamentalists. It's that they've thrown out the spirit of their interpretation of God's word for it's letter.

There's a twin danger. You point out that I get "murky" and cherry pick in that I don't look at as a letter of the law thing. There may be some justification to that. I'm more concerned with the opposite danger, and from my understanding a greater sin and does harm to more people.

People get more legalistic when they look for loopholes to excuse their own behavior and justify not giving others a benefit of the doubt. It does happen that people get legalistic for good reasons, but that's not the norm. As a society, we've lost our ability to differentiate between what is good, and what is our role? Should an organization do something that is good, if in the process it compromises it's role or capability of fulfilling its purpose which is a greater good?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Achilles
In predominantly christian nations? If not, then your valid point does not apply to the discussion.
Some of them are I think. Trinidad? The Philipines? Jamaica? I've heard them mentioned among other nations which are definitely not predominately Christian.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Achilles
I think you might be very close to making my point here: if god never pulled the plug on the whole slavery thing, then who are we to suddenly decide that it's wrong? Clearly we did not get to that conclusion via a literal interpretation of the holy bible.
I have nothing wrong with people who live by a literal interpretation of the bible as far as personal application goes. I do, however, think that the whole cultural movement often do more harm than good by focusing on the political at the expense of the spiritual. Jesus's command to his disciples was pretty straightforward that their concerns were to be in worshiping God with their lives then as a 2nd priority making disciples of others.

In the book of John during the last supper, Jesus tells his disciples not to desire to lord it over one another "like the heathen do." The whole amish/menonite/quaker/shaker anabaptist branch of protestantism claim, and with some merit I think that hunger for political power over others is incompatible with the attitude that Jesus tried to bring about in his followers, and that one cannot truly follow Christ if your primary goals are political. So there is a good case that the fundamentalists are taking Christian principles and turning them into legislation, but ignoring the central message of what Christianity is supposed to be about in order to achieve a "lesser" goal, according to the values expressed in the gospels.


Quote:
Originally Posted by Achilles
I'm not entirely clear on what your point is here. Your contention seemed to be "shame on the atheists for posting such things". My argument is that no one is being forced to read or respond to these posts. If you choose to participate, please don't expect the kid gloves.
I resist emotional manipulation from within Christian groups too. Don't get offended that I don't think highly of it.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Achilles
That's fantastic. I promise that I really got it the last time you said it. However, that doesn't change the fact that *your expectations* have nothing to do with the question. Your experiences and your expectations do not have any bearing on whether or not the question is important to anyone other than you. If you would like to make a compelling argument for why it shouldn't matter to anyone, I'd be happy to hear it but repeating this point isn't moving the dialog forward.
Whether a Christian is protestant or catholic, they believe they are called to faith, if they are serious about their religious beliefs at all. There's some debate on how we're judged, about whether God looks at the mix of faith and works. Most modern protestant clergy will admit that for a person's salvation to be sincere that works must be present for it to have ever been a real commitment &/or relationship to God, even though its been the Catholic position that faith and works are what save you. Likewise, most Catholic clergy I've heard from will freely admit that it may be the faith itself that saves you, and that no single work a person can do can merit a person's being "owed" salvation. But both groups have never come together to work out an agreement in spite of how close their points of view have grown other than the face saving statements of saying that they weren't wrong 4 centuries ago.

There are certain universals and commonalities, and even people in both protestant & catholic groups who say they are interested in greater ecumenicism and respect.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Achilles
Actually no. There was this guy, that I kinda look like, that I grew up calling Dad. To the best of my recollection, my mother never offered a formal introduction.

Please help me understand the relevance of this train of thought. Thanks in advance.
What is gained in undercutting the faith in the relationships that matter to you? I include my relationship to God in this category for me personally. I considered the person's arguements who made the video. I just didn't find them compelling and I found them to be manipulative.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Achilles
Without knowing precisely what you assume about "what I advocate", I really can't comment intelligently here.
I think you advocate that religion and faith are dangerous, just like the video said the creator of the video believed as well. Was I wrong in this assumption or do you invest so much effort in disproving all faiths because it's a matter you're indifferent about?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Achilles
I think you're taking the same risk with Islam that you're taking with your own religion: you're cherry-picking parts of it and assuming that it represents the whole. The argument that you've gone out of your way to avoid acknowledging is this: what if your beliefs are wrong?
Then my beliefs would be wrong. I've already said that I am not that worried. Either they are or they're not. I'd be in the same boat if I were an athiest, a theist, an agnostic, or any specific flavor of any of them, like muslims, jews, christians, budhists, or hindu on the theist side; or budhists, humanists, objectivists, communists, social darwinists, or other groups on the atheist side. Presumably all of them are wrong on at least some points. Presumably myself as well. I've never held myself or anyone else to a standard of perfection in that regard or expected that they'd have to live by my rules. I look for the personal application. Let others worry about their own behavior. I've got enough to deal with making sure of my own, and keeping safe my loved ones to really see myself as anyone else's judge.

I was pointing out that a good many muslims would say that modern Christians aren't necessarily hell bound or evil in the sight of God, merely misguided for having beliefs that differ from their own.

Where a lot of the anger in many of the muslim community comes from (not all by any means, but a significant portion) towards some of the Christian community in many cases is that Christian wealthier, western governments treatment of islamic governments is often arrogant and high handed.

You can't be all things to all people. And there are other points of view within any community. All any person can do is to struggle towards what they percieve as the truth and do the best they can in life with what tools they have been given to get through it.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Achilles
With all due respect, you've appeared to invest almost no critical thought into religion in general yet still somehow managed to arrive at the conclusion that it's central to your being. How does one do that?
I've critically thought about it. Just I don't think that are reasonable to come to apart from experiences of life which you've made clear that you don't share. So I just don't think my reasons or experiences in life would be compelling to you, so I really didn't feel the need to bother trotting them out.
But you did say that unless a person did x, y, and z, mental gymnastics, then they couldn't have faith in light of a, b, and c arguements. So I entered the discussion because I found both the video presenter's conclusions and the assumptions about what alternative we msut start at both to be unsatisfying.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Achilles
As I pointed out earlier, the omnibenevolent god myth is not some fringe concept within religion, so it's not as though the author it trying to appeal to some radical sect of christianity. You've apparently decided at some point to adopt a worldview that crappy things happen and it's all part of god's plan. I can't help but think that has to foster a profound sense of apathy ("nothin' I can do about it - god's plan" *shrug*) which with seem to fly in the face of the the parts of the new testament you attempted to point me towards earlier. And furthermore, this is somehow better than "the life I advocate" (?).
There have been a lot of people that have gone that direction with it. That is true. I try to never take a defeatist direction in that in that our effort has to have been planned for as well. And both crappy and good things happen all the time.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Achilles
The point remains that we're still left with mental gymnastics. I'm sorry to hear that the author's point passed you by, but hopefully you at least got an enjoyable discussion out of it.
I did. Thank you for an enlivening debate.

Edit: I just had it pointed out to me the point about christian mariages. You make the assumption that I believe that by becoming a Christian, God makes a person a better person than they'd ordinarily be, and thus more dedicated to a marriage or making it work. No. That's not my assumption at all and never has been.

Being a Christian makes you forgiven and desire to pursue a relationship with God. The other is a separate issue. If that's not your question please clarify.
If that's not an answer to it, please tell me what exactly you're looking for.


Quote:
Originally Posted by Achilles
I'm trying to imagine what kind of individual would be attracted to this early christian church you're proposing. The results aren't flattering.
I really don't think it's that much of a reach.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Achilles
FWIW, you may or may not enjoy the PBS documentary From Jesus to Christ.
thanks. I'll get a look at it when I've got a bit more time and perhaps get back to you.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Achilles
This still doesn't address the point, but I suspect that doing so is not a priority for you.
Hopefully this post answers more of what you were getting at, but you're right. I really don't have any axes to grind other than seeing that my view is represented at least somewhat. Not that it has to convince any one.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Achilles
Take care and thanks for the interesting discussion, sir.
Look forward to the next one. And thank you.


"If force is the game, the murderer wins over the pickpocket." Ayn Rand

"Justice is the midpoint between being treated unjustly, and treating others unjustly." Aristotle

Last edited by Jvstice; 04-16-2008 at 01:04 AM.
Jvstice is offline   you may: quote & reply,