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A Simple Letter back from a Christian
Posted: 27 September 2006 02:15 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 76 ]  
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Hey waltercat I hope you are doing well this evening.  I hope all are enjoying this lively discussion as much as I am?  Discussions like these, I think, help because they give each of us a unique look into another person’s worldview even when those worldviews are stars apart.  So, let’s get down to business and look at your replies toward me!

>God did not have to make us such that we will never choose evil. That is, he didn’t have to take our freedom away. But He does have the obligation, as our creator, to teach us how best to use the gift He has given us. And He has the obligation to be understanding (as any parent does) and not to overreact at the first sign of disobedience.

First off please understand that Genesis is not the “whole story”…that is, Genesis covers a great deal of temporal territory in a short period of time.  The actual history between the time of Adam and the time of Joseph of the Many Coloured Coats is practically ageless.  Furthermore, the book of Genesis is not written like what we could call a “historical document” today.  Instead, it was written in the manner that a) Moses was familiar with because of his learning in the courts of the Egyptians and b) by taking the writing style familiar to Moses, God then has him write in the lessons that the 1) Jews needed to know and 2) the future generations from Jews through Gentiles, needed and would need to know. 

I would say that God would, if taking away the temptation, by not allowing us to take our rightful place in His creation, He would just have sock puppets.  We would be, as the business term points out, nothing but mindless “yes men” who nod our head at the right moments at the right times without ever thinking “why” and without ever having decisions before us.  He does understand us, He does have His say, and He does give us chances.  We can use the Torah as an example.  In Genesis God confronts the disobedience of Adam and Eve.  He punishes man but He also promises to man as seen in the Messianic prophecy of Genesis 3:16. 

Why did God react the way He reacted to Adam and Eve?  Why are we now being punished today for the sins of Adam in the very dawn of the history of mankind?  It has to do with what we know and what we can understand by not just reading the Torah or the rest of the OT but also through reading carefully the works of the NT.  Also, having an understanding of the history behind the writing style Moses used is also of great importance and help in understanding.  What we see in Genesis is this:  God creates the world and the world is good, God, who desires to have relations with His creation, creates man…i.e. Man is created in God’s image (not so much physically but also intellectually, spiritually, et cetera).  When Satan is brought to Man, Man has a clear choice.  He can act as the Suzerainty king that God is giving to Him by choosing God’s desire for Man or man can turn away and choose his own self interest and his own self desires and that is what man does when man chooses to listen to Lucifer instead of God. 

And yet even when man is punished by God, he is also witnesses to the prophetic future that God has in store for mankind and in store for man’s natural enemy, Satan.  Then while there is a seemingly short “jump” between Adam and the Flood, there are actually multitudes of thousands of years, and as my OT professor pointed out, most likely most of human history took place in this time frame in comparison to the periods between the covenant with Abraham and the coming of Jesus Christ.  During this time period between Adam and the Flood, God does send His messages into the world.  We can see this in the generations of Seth in comparison to the generations of Cain.  While yes the generations of Cain did bring about cities, agriculture, et cetera, they did not hold unto the promise of God as did the generations of Seth (compare and contrast, in other words, Gen 4:16 through 24 and that of Gen 5). 

Then we come to the Flood, this is not a punishment over a sudden “sign of disobedience.”  Like I said, there were countless years separating the time of Adam and the time of Noah.  Throughout this time period God allowed us to follow Him out of our own conscience decision.  We had, for example, God’s promised redeemer, we had people like Enoch and Methuselah to speak out for the Lord, and we had nature itself showing God’s glory.  And yet, man rebelled and rebelled big.  And yet, God allowed Noah to present the “gospel” of that time period for a hundred some odd years.  He built the ark, he ministered.  Still, man rebelled against God, wickedly, horrifically, then, after all that God provided, then He brought punishment. 

Then there is the covenant with that of Abraham, a covenant from a One God into a man who probably knew, in his very youth, many gods and goddesses.  The covenant between God and Adam and then Noah and Adam develops, evolves in a sense, into the covenant we gain from Exodus through Deuteronomy.  This is very interesting because if you know anything about this time period, you also see that the covenantal laws and structures are very close to the Suzerainty laws and covenants of that same time period.  Thus God used man’s law creation to help His people the Jews understand what and how He was making a covenant with them.  I wont go into detail but I think you get the idea.  By giving us the Law, the Prophets, by showing His emperorship above us in the style of the Suzerainty emperor, God shows that He wont leave us to our own device…as we shall now focus upon.

> Human parents do not react in the way that God did. When human children disobey, yes, they are punished, but they are not left to fend for themselves in a hostile world. Parents who refuse to help their children just because of some small infraction are NOT good parents, such people are sent to jail.

I disagree I think God does show Himself as a parent.  He doesn’t, in my opinion, leave us to fend for ourselves in a hostile world.  First of all, He gave the promises that those people from Adam to Noah lived by, but sadly only Noah and his family held true (to the best of their abilities) through faith in God.  Then, He took Abraham out of the world he knew and brought him, by faith, into a new direction with new promises that built upon the earlier promises…thus the covenant is built atop the covenant atop the covenant and so on.  He gave the Law, that is, the Torah.  He gave the Kings such as David who was a living symbol, despite the times he disobeyed God, of the Messianic promises that would come true one day in Christ Jesus. 

God also gave the Prophets.  The Prophets were God’s word and were, in a sense, God’s champions in the sinful world that was within and outside the Jewish nation.  The Prophets were the ones who would challenge social sins such as mistreating poor and the widowed, the Prophets would act as God’s representatives such as when Elijah confronts the Baal priests, the Prophet’s were also God’s hands in healing those who held the faith in being healed, again we see this in the Elijah narrative.  God has the prophets come one after the other asking people to give up their sinful ways, give up compromising on the truth, and live a life that is blessed by God and is loved from God. 

In this new era, in the era of the New Testament from the time of Christ’s ministry to today, we have God Himself speaking to us through a careful considerate compellation of His views that have stood the test of times between the original NT writers and the people they spoke to then to the NT readers now here in this world we live in.  As I believe pointed out in the NT scripture, once there was the Law and the Prophets, now God Himself has His say through the mouth of Jesus Christ.  We now live and breathe and exist within the power of the Great Commission which in turn is powered by the death and the resurrection of Christ and from there, the promise of the fulfillment of Second Advent prophecies found in both and correlated in both OT and in the NT. Further we have God’s voice, in my belief and faith, found in Scripture, to help us to understand what this… this that we touch and see and hear and learn and grow and all…all is about.  I will give two examples.

Take David for example.  David will always be described as a “man after God’s own heart” and yet he committed lying, adultery, and murder.  David was “God’s champion” and yet he himself fell into his own egotism and desires.  We see this in the story of David and Basheba.  He not only gave into his own lust with this married woman, but he used trickery to get her to have sex with her husband so that it would seem like the husband was the one who got her pregnant.  When this did not work, David got her husband killed.  What David did was wrong, the Bible states that it is wrong, but with punishment that God allowed to happen to David God also handed Him grace and forgiveness.  By going back to God after these grave acts, God did forgive and God did show His love to David…now yes, David still had to face the consequences for his actions, but, no matter what, by going to God in humble realization and humble understanding, you will gain forgiveness. 

I’ll use a contemporary person, my own minister at the church I go to, as an example of acts of mercy even in the most painful of situations.  Several years ago he went through a horrific divorce with his then wife.  His wife had been cheating on him and that his child with her was not really his child at all, but the man who she had been sleeping with.  Here is a man of God, a minister, brought to the stark realities of pain that is so prevalent in this life we live.  He did not give up, yes he came to God in all his doubts, all his pain, all of his uncertainties, but my minister was brought through the pain and the turmoil that anyone who has ever had a cheating spouse knows about.  He was given foundation, he was given strength, and now he is in a righteous relationship not only with God but with the right woman.  In fact, through his ex-wife’s sin of adultery, God brought about abundant blessings…this doesn’t mean that He will always give blessings in the worst of our situations, at least blessings that we can see, but He is still there, He is still our tower, our fortress.

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Posted: 27 September 2006 02:19 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 77 ]  
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Please remember, I am not here trying to say I am better than anyone, nor am I here saying that I have all the answers.  I am only, I hope, presenting to you the reader my worldview in (I hope) a respectful sort of manner.  Mr. Harris calls for a response from the Christian nation, and though I do not consider myself in any way some kind of mass representative, I’m only responding as one of his Christian readers.  I know this might sound crazy, but I am enjoying this enlightening conversation on worldviews and I hope that all of you are too, for the most part.

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Posted: 27 September 2006 02:34 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 78 ]  
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FranklinBR,
You are obviously a very educated person, and a very friendly person as well.  But you seem to be very sure of things that no one can really claim to know.  For example:

[quote author=“FranklinBR”]Then while there is a seemingly short “jump” between Adam and the Flood, there are actually multitudes of thousands of years, and as my OT professor pointed out, most likely most of human history took place in this time frame in comparison to the periods between the covenant with Abraham and the coming of Jesus Christ.

How do you know this?  How do you really know that most of human history took place in this time frame?

More importantly, How do you know that anything in the Bible is true?  Let’s narrow the focus to Genesis.  How do you know that the events described in Genesis actually took place?

I disagree I think God does show Himself as a parent.  He doesn’t, in my opinion, leave us to fend for ourselves in a hostile world.  First of all, He gave the promises that those people from Adam to Noah lived by, but sadly only Noah and his family held true (to the best of their abilities) through faith in God.  Then, He took Abraham out of the world he knew and brought him, by faith, into a new direction with new promises that built upon the earlier promises…thus the covenant is built atop the covenant atop the covenant and so on.  He gave the Law, that is, the Torah.  He gave the Kings such as David who was a living symbol, despite the times he disobeyed God, of the Messianic promises that would come true one day in Christ Jesus.

My point wasn’t so much that he abandoned us, but that he forced Adam and Eve, and all of their descendents into a hostile world.  All because they ate some fruit.  This seems like a dramatic over-reaction.  God could have been more understanding, as any human parent would, he could have explained who Satan is and why we should no be tempted by him.

Again, God could have done all of this without violating our free will.  That he did not is very odd. 

God also gave the Prophets.  The Prophets were God’s word and were, in a sense, God’s champions in the sinful world that was within and outside the Jewish nation.

But He didn’t give the prophets to Native Americans, and He didn’t send a savior to Native Americans.  He let these people live in sin for thousands of years without a moral guide and without possibility of salvation through Jesus.  Why would a loving God do this?

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What do I care for a hell for oppressors? What good can hell do, since those children have already been tortured? And what becomes of harmony, if there is hell? I want to forgive. I want to embrace. I don’t want more suffering. And if the sufferings of children go to swell the sum of sufferings which was necessary to pay for truth, then I protest that the truth is not worth such a price.
-Ivan Karamazov

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Posted: 27 September 2006 03:30 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 79 ]  
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Greetings back to you and I hope this evening is going well with you.  So how do I know that Genesis is true?  How do I trust Genesis and what it says to be, narrowing focus solely on the time before the Flood.  I can only say as both a historian with the background of historiography and as a (student) theologian slowly but surely studying the Bible inside and out, it has taken a long road for me to be sure enough that I can trust the Bible, and in this case, trust Genesis.  I will go under the assumption that you’ve read my slight “bios” to know that it had taken a long, long time before coming to the conclusion, to the consideration, that Genesis, along with the rest of Scripture, was and is true.  This has been through rigorous studies within the Bible and outside the Bible.  There has been much question, much doubt, much mulling over what I read, what I study, what I consider and conceive.  One of the ways I have learned and gained trust in Genesis is through what I have learned in my OT I class.  Through this class I realized that we cannot read Genesis like we would read, say, a book on the history of the United States.  We have to look into the culture that surrounded the writer, that being Moses, the relationship with God, and the points that God wanted Moses and the rest of the Israelites to know.  Also, and we wont get into the debate over evolution because I am sure your eyes are tired after reading my slightly longish posts, the study of the world around the people that made up Genesis such as Noah, Abraham, et al, along with accounts within the Bible and outside the Bible on the Flood (both scientific accounts and comparison and contrasting with other creation stories and flood stories), what other books of the Bible say about Genesis, and what the Israelite would be looking for, learning from, and examining through the teachings of Genesis at the time of Moses’ writing the Torah and onward through how Christians express and explore the book of Genesis.  I realize this is not a simple answer because I really can’t give you a simple answer.  If we had the time, say we were at a bar having a drink, I am sure we would have an excellent time actually spinning through the books and all…but we don’t…and then again, theology gets kind of weird when you’ve had one too many Ice Houses! LOL

Again, why didn’t God sent Prophets to the Native Americans, why didn’t God send the Prophets or Jesus Christ Himself to what would be the Buddhists in Asia, et cetera.  The answer?  Haven’t a clue.  Not God.  That’s a cop out answer I realize, but let me explore a bit concerning what the answer might be.  And realize I say might.  I will be the first to tell you that, unlike Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson, I don’t have J.C. emailing me ten times a day with fresh answers!  And yes, I will admit I don’t mind poking fun at those two because even I can’t stand them!  But I think you get my point.  People like them say they know God in and out, but they don’t.  Faith in a cause or a belief can lead to rapture, but extremism can lead to blindness and blood.  I am sure we all agree on that point!  Anyway, I digress, going back to why this or that.  One of the thoughts that my professor of OT spoke aloud stated that with the Tower of Babel and the generations of the Nations that we see in Genesis, God allowed man the freedom to do as he wills…and yet, even as man pretty much started doing the exact same things man did before the flood, God took one man…and made a nation…in a small corner of the world in our eyes, but if you truly look at it, I would have to agree with the Medieval mind that Jerusalem IS at the center of the world…God took out of the pagan nations one man who was justified by faith (which is an important point in and of itself), and promised him and delivered to him not just children more numerous than the stars, but also the way of salvation that would bless the other nations of the world.  In God’s timing, in God’s place, God works to His own accord.  We cannot super-guess Him, we cannot mathematically create a model to see what He will do next.  God works in His own time.  Again, back to that small point in the world, God came into the World as Jesus Christ.  And small men and women who were, for the most part, not rich, not well educated (except for specific ones like Luke and Paul), were not high on the social ladder…these men and women spread across the Roman empire, facing persecution from their Jewish brethren and from the Gentile Romans. 

Now you might say, and you have a right to say, that there were Christians…or people I would call “people who called themselves Christians”…who went out and used the sword to force people into Christianity.  This is wrong.  It always has been wrong and it always will be wrong…you can never force someone to follow any sort of ideology.  This has happened on a lot of occasions, and it isn’t just by the people calling themselves Christians, other ideologies have done this too.  But aiming specifically to the Great Commission, the Great Commission is to be the guiding power of spreading the Gospel, the Good News—that God has come into the world and God has a message for the world.  This was the driving force of the apostles, mere fishermen, zealots, and one once tax collector.  This was the force that changed Saul into Paul.  And this is what I believe in today, along with the family of believers both under siege in underground churches and next door to me.  Doesn’t mean I know everything.  Doesn’t mean I understand everything.  All it means is that I have been shown evidence historically and theologically and psychologically (through my own life, through the life of others, near and far), and this is what leads me to seminary school and wherever I will go from there. 

I know these aren’t the exact answers you were wishing, I am sorry to say, but I would rather give you, waltercat, an honest answer from my mind and my heart as a Christian than some cliché answer that would be rolling off the tongue of some chap like Oral Roberts.  I respect you and I know and hope that you will respect me, and thus I will be as honest to you as you are to me.

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Posted: 27 September 2006 06:53 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 80 ]  
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Hey Franklin! I remember doing quite a lot of writing myself back at Uni. Good days.
Today’s weather: Rain. Clouds. Cold. Wouldn’t want it any other way. Really rolleyes

Well, god showing up on your doorstep might not be a good thing for you. I, on the other hand, would most likely believe him if he did. I, of course argue that he will never do that, because of a slight lack of existence. Based on the bible I also argue that if a god that don’t exists showed up on my doorstep, he would not say “Believe!” in a commanding voice. He would more likely tell me a ten minute long story that meant “Believe!”

To affect 6 billion people, including the tribes in the jungle, a book is simply not the most effective way if you have absolute power..

If we are stubborn out of human nature, you also believe that god made us like that. Why? Does he want us, or some of us, to go to hell and burn and scream and cry for all eternity? After all, the devil needs his army if there is to be a fight in the end.

The fact that god shows the prophets anything, takes away the idea of free will. If I understand it or not is besides the point. If there is something that will absolutely happen, no matter what, where is the free will? 
In a world of free will, what “the future holds” is impossible to know. You can predict it, but a prophecy is not a prediction, it is a telling of what must happen. I can not change something to make a fulfillment of prophecy void. Even if we all became christians, all 6 billion of us, and danced, laughed and marveled at god, the end of the world would still come in this scenario. The numbers of dead would still ring true even if we were all christian.
You can’t fit free will together with prophets. The prophets turn you into a pawn on a chessboard where you are free to move around within your square.

To be stubborn means I know what I should do, but refuse to do it. I will not jump into water if I know there are sharks waiting. That is not being stubborn, that’s being wise. I don’t think the breath is something else. I believe it’s something else. I don’t choose not to feel the breath, I simply don’t feel any breath. It’s not a choice at all.
It also implies that I, just by feeling the breath will become a person of higher, or better morals. Believing in god will not automaticlly make me a better man. The mere belief in god changes nothing. I am a better man today as an atheist as I ever was as a christian. This is because of maturity, knowledge and adaptation.
Furthermore, just believing in god isn’t the thing at all. It is the belief in the rewards and the punishments that guides you. Not the belief in a god. Belief in god is just one of the rules to get into heaven and keep you out of hell. If god/Jesus belief was not one of the rules, all buddhists and “good” people would go to heaven.

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“If your original Hebrew disagrees with my original King James—- your original Hebrew is wrong.”—FSTDT

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Posted: 28 September 2006 03:11 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 81 ]  
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FranklinBR wrote:God also gave the Prophets.  The Prophets were God’s word and were, in a sense, God’s champions in the sinful world that was within and outside the Jewish nation.

Waltercat responded:But He didn’t give the prophets to Native Americans, and He didn’t send a savior to Native Americans.  He let these people live in sin for thousands of years without a moral guide and without possibility of salvation through Jesus.  Why would a loving God do this?

Yet, ask the Mormons.  Are 12 million Mormons duped souls? If you tell an active, devout Mormon that Jesus did not visit the Native Americans right after his resurrection, you will get to battle stations in like T minus 4 seconds.  They will ardently defend his visit to North American soil with fervor and mental gymnastics.  They claim that a small band of hebrews set sail from the middle east in 400 BC and arrived in South America, flourished to a population of millions 1000 years later and god raised up many prophets among them. (Book of Mormon).

Visit the Mormon apologetics website, it’s entirely fascinating to post on that forum as a non believer challenging what they believe and see the twisted responses.

http://www.fairlds.org

We could thus throw in several paragraphs for discussion from Michael Schermer’s book “Why Smart People Believe Wierd Things”.  Brilliant men and women believe that UFO’s regularily visit earth.  Does that make it true?

Does the fact that people today still believe that the bible’s story is true, make it true?  You will scoff at the book of mormon stories.  Here, do me a favor go to this link here to see the ‘irrefutable evidences’ for the book of mormon:

http://www.jefflindsay.com/BMEvidences.shtml

If you spend even 5 minutes here, you will not be able to refute their claims… exactly the same as how people cannot refute some of the biblical claims.  Does it make the bible or book of mormon true though?

nope, but it feels good to believe in something therefore it must be true to our own convincing.  Again, FranklinBR, everyone else is miguided but you.  I have to ask.  You did read “Letter to A Christian Nation” did you not?

You might try to whammy the same argument back on me as a nontheist. 

Noggin, everyone else is misguided but you

I am the one bowing out of the competition for gods though.  All cannot be true, therefore none of them are.  It’s your assertion that Jesus is Lord and Savior.  You cannot prove this, neither can anyone else prove thier religion true, therefore the argument

everyone is miguided but FranklinBR

is yours to contend against, not mine.

Noggin

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Posted: 28 September 2006 05:13 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 82 ]  
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Hey Storm great to hear from you today!  Hope you are having a great day despite all the wonderful weather you are having!  I myself would probably love that kind of weather since it would mean I could wear all the nifty men’s Victorian clothes I have bought for myself for the past month and a half…kinda hoping that men’s Victorian style clothing comes back into “vogue”…not holding my breath though! 

Why are we stubborn?  Why are we vengeful?  Why do we cheat on our spouse?  Why do we hate the guy five doors down because he was able to get a new car?  When God created Adam and Eve they were innocent and in some ways, but not other ways, they were perfect.  What they weren’t was righteous.  That means that though they were innocent, that is, they did not commit any sins at that point, they were not righteous because righteousness can only come through what you might as well call “trial by fire.” There’s a big difference between innocence and righteous.  Innocence means you have never experienced temptation.  Righteousness means that you have experienced temptation and you have conquered that temptation.  God allowed the Snake to come to Adam and Eve because, to be the heirs to God’s creation, the Suzerainty kings to God the emperor, because to be truly whole you must have a trial by fire, you must be tested, you must be tempted. 

Is that wrong of God to do this?  No.  Why?  Because I believe that we have to face the darkness to appreciate the light.  We have to walk the valley of shadows in order to get to the country of life.  When Adam and Eve fell, they choose to fall, they choose to not be righteous, they, instead, chose to follow the self, to worship the self, to place the self above God, above their Suzerainty emperor you might say.  Multitude of times later, with Jesus Christ, He being the Second Adam, because He is fully God and because He is fully man, He is able to face the trials by fire and to come out righteous and thus He is able to take our sins upon His shoulder upon the Cross, and because of His righteousness, His holiness, His truth, being the Son of God/Son of Man, He is resurrected. 

Prophecy is a strange creation.  Yes Prophecy foretells what will occur in the future.  But remember the prophet more often then not, had absolutely no idea of what was going to occur or when said event will happen.  Take Isaiah for example, chapter 61:1-3 I believe is the passage.  Remember in the Gospels Jesus reading the first half of this prophecy and showing that it was fulfilled in Him that very day, but He did not read the second half of the prophecy because that event would not happen until the end of days.  Free will does work with prophecy and this is why.  We do not know when the prophecy will happen.  We do not know when an event will occur.  Yes we can trust that it will, I can, for example, trust that the rapture will occur, but it might happen today, might happen tomorrow, might happen after I am gone and have died…hopefully later than sooner!!!  Because I know all of you would miss my posts! wink 

Because we do not know when an event will be fulfilled, and we do not know fully how said event will occur, we have the free will choice to do what needs to be done today.  God calls us to live for today, do not worry about tomorrow, do not worry about prophecy, trust prophecy, but don’t let it be a albatross around your neck.  We can, like some people I know, hide in the countryside with shotguns ready for the antiChrist to come along and go “BOO!”  Or we can, like myself, trust in prophesy, but also live my life here and now… through the freedom of will, the freedom of choice.  Thus what can I freely do today?  Can I be scared and worried about events or can I enjoy my life, enjoy my relationship with God, and to do all that I can to help the world around me?  I choose the second, I choose to help missionaries, I choose to pray for people I love and people I don’t know, just because I know they need prayers to help them through.  I have that freedom of choice.

Well I will talk to you later Storm.  I don’t think I will be able to reply soon as I need to get ready for work right now (today is “truck” day so all the new nifty books will be coming in and needing to be shelved), hopefully I will be able to respond when I get home from work. So if all of you don’t hear from me (and I just know! You will be missing me!), I’ll respond then. 

Take care Storm and I hope that you have a good day despite the lovely weather you are having!

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Posted: 28 September 2006 05:24 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 83 ]  
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Noggin, yes I did read the book by Sam Harris along with his other book.  I have heard the same arguments before, through different authors and along different points in history (from Hellenism to the “Age of Reason” to B. Russell).  That is the reason I replied here in the first place.  I do not say that I know everything, or that I am superior toward anyone else.  I disagree with others, such as the Mormons or the atheists, but I do not believe in having a superiority complex because of it.  I have atheists for friends and I have Wiccans for friends, but while if they ask my opinion about something I would give it, I do not laud myself or hit them upside the head with my Bible.  Yes we may talk about the differences between ideologies of these set of beliefs, from atheism to Wicca, but we do so in respect and kindness and friendship. 

In other words, they respect my worldview just as I respect their worldviews—I believe in tolerance, tolerance is that you and I may disagree but we can agree to disagree and still be civil to one another.  You disagree with me, you trust in yourself to being right and that I am wrong.  You say I am misguided and wrong, just as you say I say about others and about yourself.  Just as I cannot bring Jesus Christ to your doorstep, you cannot really bring any evidence that Jesus Christ isn’t whom He says He is…in the end it is a matter of faith, you have faith in a humanistic ideology, humanistic society, humanistic morality, I have faith…conceived of through my own studies and my own reasoning and my own experiences and my own soul…that God is whom God says He is through Jesus Christ.  You don’t believe that, and that’s really fine by me, I do not believe in holding a “smoking gun” to anyone’s head.  I enjoy debates and conversations, but force is of no use whatsoever. 

Hence, while forcing anyone to be the same as myself or anything like that is wrong, disrespecting another person’s worldview is also wrong—all I ask is respect me and be respectful, even in total disagreement, with my worldview, something which at times Mr. Harris doesn’t seem to hold unto in his books.  Not that I am saying he is snide or anything like that, just the way the books are written caused me to come to here and respectfully express my worldview and ask for respect for me.  Is that really too much to ask?  To agree to disagree and be civil toward others no matter what?

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Posted: 28 September 2006 06:04 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 84 ]  
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If I have been uncivil towards you, FranklinBR, I apologize. 

The book, Letter to a Christian Nation, is a lesson in logic.  I just finished it yesterday and so I am born again in skepticism as to

1.  how I allowed myself to believe that Jesus is what the bible says he is
2.  how others do this

and I base that along the lines that Jesus can be refuted and is refuted, to the point that intelligent, studious, patient, thoughtful persons like yourself, having done the research should be able to see this.  That’s why I asked if you actually read that little book.  Because it obviously went right past you.

With the arguments fresh in my head, it appears that theists have their heads in the sand not wanting to see the proof that crushes their Lord and Savior.  It is painful to realize that there is no Savior.  It hurts like a bugger.  But after the pain comes a rather nice release.  Jesus’s yoke that was supposed to be so light, we find, really was like a millstone we were dragging around on dry ground.  And you know, you really cannot fathom how heavy the yoke or burden was/is until you’ve carried it for decades and then now all of a sudden you do not have to do it anymore.

Take my yoke upon you for my burden is light

is one of the largest lies ever written.

You say that in the end it all boils down to faith.  Then why not put that faith under scrutiny?  Why didn’t you visit the website that “proves” Mormonism is true?  You cannot prove that Mormonism is false.  I gather that it matters little to you how true or false other religions are.  You have your Jesus, and you have closed your mind to any other possibility of any other god, or non god.  Yet, all of these other propositions are on equal ground to your claimed faith.

You say it all comes down to faith in the end.

I say it all comes down to a popularity contest in the end.  Jesus has the popular vote in America.  That is all.  No more no less.  If you had been born in Iraq, you’d be defending Sunni Islam right now.

Noggin

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Posted: 28 September 2006 06:31 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 85 ]  
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[quote author=“FranklinBR”]Hence, while forcing anyone to be the same as myself or anything like that is wrong, disrespecting another person’s worldview is also wrong—all I ask is respect me and be respectful, even in total disagreement, with my worldview, something which at times Mr. Harris doesn’t seem to hold unto in his books.  Not that I am saying he is snide or anything like that, just the way the books are written caused me to come to here and respectfully express my worldview and ask for respect for me.  Is that really too much to ask?  To agree to disagree and be civil toward others no matter what?


Franklin, I really don’t think you understand what Sam Harris is trying to say. You ask for people to be tolerant, but what you don’t understand is that religious tolerance IS A PROBLEM. Not only do the moderates who advocate tolerance shield the fundamentalists, the moderates themselves do great harm.

Lets talk the USA, because thats where i live and i can’t vouch for anywhere else. Almost daily I can look a the news and see a story about “peace loving, christ fufilled christians” picketing outside of an abortion clinic, or drumming up support to ban gay marriage. The christians say they want to be happy and spread love,  but they don’t want those who don’t share their ideology to be happy.

Why? Because their precious little book-o-faerie tales tells them not to let these things go. Why can’t christians let gay people marry, buy a house and be happy? Because they won’t produce potential christians? Because one verse in the horribly errant bible says its wrong? Not to bring up slavery again, but somehow the christians got past slavery, why can’t they get past abortion and gay rights?

For abortion, THERE IS NO SOUL!! It is a social construction. Yet, christians clinging to this stupid idea claim that woman should not be able to make choices about her body. If she doesn’t want a child inside her, let her get rid of it. We wouldn’t have so much of a problem with it if the church didn’t have such a say against contraception! More christians babies=more mouths to feed=possibly more poor families=more work for the christians to do to help themselves out.

But, no. Christians cling to these fanciful ideas as though they are absolute truths about this world, while refuting the absolute truths of THOUSANDS of other cultures and religions. You think they aren’t doing harm, you blame the politicians for enacting these laws. Guess what, the politicians are smart, they are playing off the ignorance of christians to get elected by advocating their stupid little problems.

These are MAJOR problems, but they are not problems of extremists, they are problems of the majority. THAT is what Sam Harris is trying to get people to understand. Irrational, evidence-lacking faith in old books and mythology is detrimental to the future of mankind. We must abandon it and learn to work together on issues that are important, not this petty crap that hurts people.

Worthwhile problem: we are gonna run out of oil, what next
Stupid Problem: Not wanting gay people to love one another.

Please re-read both the End of Faith, and the Letter, as Noggin says, this should all become painfully obvious.

Good day to you sir.

Adam

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Posted: 28 September 2006 06:33 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 86 ]  
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Yes, apparently I’m a forum addict…I wonder if there are any self-help books out there for that!  LOL  I’m able to do a quick reply…so… :o

Just wanted to let you know, Noggin, friend, that you have been very civil to me.  And I am pleased, actually I have talked about this forum to a lot of people of various views, and I have told them how civil most of you have been…very respectful, very friendly.  I know there are forums out there that would probably just curse me out or name call me, but it is good to see that respect can be maintained even with ideological differences.  I find it gratifying that this forum can bring about a healthy, wonderful, intellectual exercise and debate without…for the most part, besides being called a moron by that chap…hostilities. 

Again, yes I read the book by Mr. Harris, I’ve read other books concerning other ideologies, I am familiar with the views and I am familiar with the worldviews that are being offered.  I can only speak for myself.  In fact I still have the copy of the Letters book by my computer.  I have put my faith under scrutiny.  I did not come to become a Christian out of just “I think I’ll be Christian today” mentality nor was I force, bribed, or threatened to become a Christian.  I simply examined the history, I examined the prophecies, I examined the theology.  I did this using all my intellectual resources to the best of my abilities.  I used what mind and heart powers I may have, not sure what batteries they run on though, in my desire to know.  It was not easy, it was not simplistic, and it was not half-hearted.

Thus I took views that Mr. Harris shares in his two books and views from other worldviews and, in my mind, with my resources, compared, contrasted, expressed, debated with self, juggled, et cetera…until I came to my own conclusion that I can indeed trust that there is a God and not just there is a God but this God comes to me through the visible Jesus Christ.  I did not come to being a Christian out of fear of hell or any other “the sky is falling” mentality that some Christians that I know are Christians because of that.  Then again, the term Christian is a very wide term because there are many differences between one Christian and the next.  One might be premillennialist the other might be amillennialist, one might be a social Christian (someone who just focuses on the social changing aspects of Christianity) while the next chap might be a fundamentalist.

P.S. Concerning Mormonism, I could probably write down a hefty list of likes and differences but that would probably go off on a tangent and be several pages long…instead I will refer to a wonderful book that examines the likes and differences between the major religions and ideologies and philosophies of today with that of Christianity (general Christianity, not specific Christianity…general Christianity is just that, a generalized view of Christianity, while specific Christianity would be the beliefs and doctrine of, say, an ARP church or a Methodist church or a Baptist church).  I’ve mentioned it before, but I’ll give the info again:  So What’s the Difference? By Fritz Ridenour.  Another book, now that I think about it, shows the fascinating differences between Christianity and that of Eastern religions and philosophies, a book entitled Jesus Among Other Gods by Ravi Zacharias.  Mr. Zacharias grew up in India in the faith of Hinduism but his life is changed by confronting Christianity and by accepting Christianity.  Both books are very intriguing and I keep them in my library.

Have a great day!  :wink:

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Posted: 28 September 2006 07:09 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 87 ]  
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[quote author=“FranklinBR”]It is a bit out dated, but it might show a fraction of the research I have done on Buddhism in comparison to that of Christianity.

Hello FranklinBR,

Although a newcomer here, I have quite enjoyed the discussion and thank you for joining.

Would you be able to provide the references in your essay in a little more detail? I counted three: Ridenour (who I believe is a reference to Fritz Ridenour - personal observation: I’m not sure I would go to him to understand any religion or system in any way except if I was looking for arguments to confirm a pre-drawn conclusion) but who are Smith and Eerdman and which books did you reference?

Thank you.

g.

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Posted: 28 September 2006 07:24 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 88 ]  
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[quote author=“FranklinBR”] So how do I know that Genesis is true?  How do I trust Genesis and what it says to be, narrowing focus solely on the time before the Flood.  I can only say as both a historian with the background of historiography and as a (student) theologian slowly but surely studying the Bible inside and out, it has taken a long road for me to be sure enough that I can trust the Bible, and in this case, trust Genesis.  I will go under the assumption that you’ve read my slight “bios” to know that it had taken a long, long time before coming to the conclusion, to the consideration, that Genesis, along with the rest of Scripture, was and is true.  This has been through rigorous studies within the Bible and outside the Bible.  There has been much question, much doubt, much mulling over what I read, what I study, what I consider and conceive.  One of the ways I have learned and gained trust in Genesis is through what I have learned in my OT I class.  Through this class I realized that we cannot read Genesis like we would read, say, a book on the history of the United States.  We have to look into the culture that surrounded the writer, that being Moses, the relationship with God, and the points that God wanted Moses and the rest of the Israelites to know.  Also, and we wont get into the debate over evolution because I am sure your eyes are tired after reading my slightly longish posts, the study of the world around the people that made up Genesis such as Noah, Abraham, et al, along with accounts within the Bible and outside the Bible on the Flood (both scientific accounts and comparison and contrasting with other creation stories and flood stories), what other books of the Bible say about Genesis, and what the Israelite would be looking for, learning from, and examining through the teachings of Genesis at the time of Moses’ writing the Torah and onward through how Christians express and explore the book of Genesis.  I realize this is not a simple answer because I really can’t give you a simple answer.  If we had the time, say we were at a bar having a drink, I am sure we would have an excellent time actually spinning through the books and all…but we don’t…and then again, theology gets kind of weird when you’ve had one too many Ice Houses!

I certainly don’t want to be rude, FranklinBR, especially to someone who has shown so much courtesy and patience as you.  But you have failed to answer the question.  How do you know that Genesis is true?  All that you have done is, in a cursory way, describe a kind of literary analysis that you have learned.  That may be a very valuable tool, but no amount of literary analysis is going to demonstrate that a book is true.  For you to know that it is true, you must have independent confirmation of the facts asserted in the book.  So, what is your independent confirmation that Adam and Eve stole a piece of fruit?  What is you independent confirmation that there was a flood that covered the entire world?  Where is your independent confirmation that Abraham was told by God to sacrifice his son, Isaac?

Again, I am not trying to be rude.  I just think that this point needs to be forced.  I, too am enjoying the amicable conversation.

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What do I care for a hell for oppressors? What good can hell do, since those children have already been tortured? And what becomes of harmony, if there is hell? I want to forgive. I want to embrace. I don’t want more suffering. And if the sufferings of children go to swell the sum of sufferings which was necessary to pay for truth, then I protest that the truth is not worth such a price.
-Ivan Karamazov

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Posted: 28 September 2006 07:43 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 89 ]  
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[quote author=“FranklinBR”]Again, why didn’t God sent Prophets to the Native Americans, why didn’t God send the Prophets or Jesus Christ Himself to what would be the Buddhists in Asia, et cetera. The answer? Haven’t a clue. Not God.

Really think about this for a while.  According to the version of Christianity that you are defending, Humanity is broken.  This means that humans are, by their very nature, sinners.  God know that there are two important ways to get people to freely choose not to sin.  First, send them a code of laws that they should choose to follow so that they don’t sin.  Second, and more important from the Christian standpoint, send Jesus to die so that our sins can be forgiven.

Now, God chose to give his Law to only one very small group of people, the Israelites.  And he chose to send Jesus to the same geographical location to which he delivered the law.  This leaves out millions of people living on other continents.

God also knows that Native Americans are just as Human, just as broken, as the Israelites.  He thus knows that they NEED the moral Law and the sacrifice of Jesus as well.  He knows that without the moral Law and without Jesus, they will lack the capacity to freely choose to not sin.  They will lack this capacity becaue they don’t even know which actions are sinful because God refused to provide them with the Law. 

Since they are also unaware of Jesus, Native Americans were left to languish in a fallen state without even the knowledge that they were sinning (And clearly they were sinning.  I doubt that any remembered the Sabbath, and most probably were worshipping other gods before Yaweh).  Why would god allow this?

God is all-powerful and all-good.  Since he is all-good, he wants to prevent as much evil as possible.  Yet, by ignoring Native Americans for so many hundreds of years, God was NOT doing all he could to prevent evil.  He allowed the evil of their sins to persist; and he allowed the evil of their fallen state to persist (since they could not partake of the forgiveness of their sins through faith in Jesus Christ).  Thus the rational thing to conclude is that either God is not all-good, or the whole story about humanity’s fallen state and salvation through Jesus is just not true.

GAME. SET. MATCH.

(sorry, I am feeling far too arrogant this afternoon).

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What do I care for a hell for oppressors? What good can hell do, since those children have already been tortured? And what becomes of harmony, if there is hell? I want to forgive. I want to embrace. I don’t want more suffering. And if the sufferings of children go to swell the sum of sufferings which was necessary to pay for truth, then I protest that the truth is not worth such a price.
-Ivan Karamazov

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Posted: 28 September 2006 08:40 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 90 ]  
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[quote author=“waltercat”][quote author=“FranklinBR”]Again, why didn’t God sent Prophets to the Native Americans, why didn’t God send the Prophets or Jesus Christ Himself to what would be the Buddhists in Asia, et cetera. The answer? Haven’t a clue. Not God.

Really think about this for a while.  According to the version of Christianity that you are defending, Humanity is broken.  This means that humans are, by their very nature, sinners.  God know that there are two important ways to get people to freely choose not to sin.  First, send them a code of laws that they should choose to follow so that they don’t sin.  Second, and more important from the Christian standpoint, send Jesus to die so that our sins can be forgiven.

Now, God chose to give his Law to only one very small group of people, the Israelites.  And he chose to send Jesus to the same geographical location to which he delivered the law.  This leaves out millions of people living on other continents.

God also knows that Native Americans are just as Human, just as broken, as the Israelites.  He thus knows that they NEED the moral Law and the sacrifice of Jesus as well.  He knows that without the moral Law and without Jesus, they will lack the capacity to freely choose to not sin.  They will lack this capacity becaue they don’t even know which actions are sinful because God refused to provide them with the Law. 

Since they are also unaware of Jesus, Native Americans were left to languish in a fallen state without even the knowledge that they were sinning (And clearly they were sinning.  I doubt that any remembered the Sabbath, and most probably were worshipping other gods before Yaweh).  Why would god allow this?

God is all-powerful and all-good.  Since he is all-good, he wants to prevent as much evil as possible.  Yet, by ignoring Native Americans for so many hundreds of years, God was NOT doing all he could to prevent evil.  He allowed the evil of their sins to persist; and he allowed the evil of their fallen state to persist (since they could not partake of the forgiveness of their sins through faith in Jesus Christ).  Thus the rational thing to conclude is that either God is not all-good, or the whole story about humanity’s fallen state and salvation through Jesus is just not true.

GAME. SET. MATCH.

(sorry, I am feeling far too arrogant this afternoon).


Waltercat, if only everybody could make so much sense. I’d vote your post as an answer to some serious questions in the FAQ section, if we had one. Another eloquent piece was written a few days ago, also deserving of a permanent residence somewhere. Have you seen it?:
http://www.samharris.org/forum/viewtopic.php?p=37183#37183

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Philosophy may in no way interfere with the actual use of language; it can in the end only describe it. For it cannot give it any foundations either. It leaves everything as it is.
Ludwig Wittgenstein

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