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Christian freedom - an oxymoron?
Posted: 07 May 2007 06:21 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 61 ]  
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[quote author=“woofy”]mentor—
    If neither side forced its values on the other, I think both sides would win.

Agreed, but since the religious side started it, and continues to escalate it, I think reasonable people have a moral obligation to respond.

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Posted: 08 May 2007 11:01 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 62 ]  
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[quote author=“woofy”]mentor—
    If neither side forced its values on the other, I think both sides would win.

It’s still messy, though, isn’t it? Because we have to follow the same laws - unless we want to split the society into different groups following different laws.
Take female circumcision, for an extreme example. We have forced our values on some immigrants, haven’t we? That makes sense because they are the ones coming here, so should follow our values. But what about in their country? Should international law somehow stop the custom?
If we’re going to proceed as a democracy, how do we determine which ‘minority rights’ will stand and which will fall?
There was a discussion like this over in another thread about religious groups refusing certain medical procedures for their children.
And right before our eyes every day we have the abortion debate.
Yes, we all have a moral obligation to respond to violations of our values, and that’s exactly what everyone’s doing.  Does it really matter ‘who started it’?
Speaking of values - thanks to your daughter for the survey, Woofy - I enjoyed doing it.

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Posted: 08 May 2007 03:56 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 63 ]  
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Hey Pat—
    Thank you for doing the survey.  I am pleased with what they are teaching the kids… asking hard questions, making them consult their conscience and really think about this stuff. 
    As far as life being “messy”, you got that right.  Messy, complicated, confusing, unclear.  So many issues.  So many layers.  Female circumcision, abortion, blood transfusions, the list goes on and on.  My general approach when confronted with the endless complexity of it all is to focus on those fundamental things… the basics…  life, earth, sky, ocean.  Every human being can relate to those things.  I like to focus on what we have in common, and work from that place of strength and union.  Every human being, regardless of culture, religion, geographic location or financial circumstance can feel what it is to be alive, and can strive to live to good purpose… to learn, to improve, to take care of the planet and the life which inhabits it.  I know I sound like a broken record sometimes, but it is so important to me. For example, on this forum, lots of times Christians will get no end of abuse and just plain unkind treatment because they are Christians, and they are living according to their beliefs.  How about just treating each other as brothers and sisters in humanity?  That is what we all are. If I stay focused on that, I can love people better.

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Posted: 08 May 2007 05:15 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 64 ]  
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Woofy, human beings are basically disgusting. There are three types of humans:

There are those like you, who are relentlessly hopeful and tolerant and who expect that everything will just turn out OK. I assume you think it is quite all right if the species Homo sapiens goes extinct sooner rather than later. I hope you do not believe that relentless cheerfullness will extend our tenure on this planet by more than a few decades.

Secondly, there are rapacious greedy bastards who simply try to put their hands on as much material wealth as they can accumulate in a human lifetime. The one who dies with the most toys wins. Kittens are fuzzy, Ducati motorcycles go fast.

Finally, there are unpleasant as$holes like yours truly, who delight to remind you that evolution does not choose sides. Extinction is forever. The sooner that humans go extinct, the sooner the rest of the planet can get on with coexisting with one another ecologically. For the time being, enormous populations are turning rain forests into charcoal in order to grill scrawny chickens for dinner.

Actually, woofy, there are only two types of people: Those who think there are two types of people, and those who do not.

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Posted: 08 May 2007 11:54 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 65 ]  
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[quote author=“Salt Creek”]

Actually, woofy, there are only two types of people: Those who think there are two types of people, and those who do not.

We are in agreement.  There are only two types of people.

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Posted: 09 May 2007 12:47 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 66 ]  
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Salt Creek—
    I accept your characterization that I am a relentlessly cheerful, hopeful and tolerant person.  I have a vision of the kind of person I want to be, and I try to live by it.  Please do not believe that because I am cheerful or pleasant or polite that I am mindless, ignorant, or completely divorced from reality.  I do not expect that everything will just turn out OK.  Being pleasant is how I choose to be, and probably how I was born.  I understand that it takes alot more than being pleasant to make the world work.  It takes participation.  I do that, too.  I believe that whether you are an unpleasant asshole, a relentlessly cheery person, or a rapacious bastard, you can make a contribution to society.  Sometimes, even the greedy bastards do something positive because it happens to be good for the bottom line….  I make my contribution according to my gifts and my dispostion, as do you Salt Creek.  And most of the people I know are not disgusting.  They are decent and they are trying to live decent lives.  I don’t look forward to human extinction.  I look forward to human improvement.

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Posted: 09 May 2007 02:46 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 67 ]  
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Getting back to the topic of this thread, the Christian God, as presented in the Bible, offends many people because of the apparent contradictions in his nature, actions and commandments, and in the exercise of his freedom he may seem contradictory and arbitrary. Without getting into a theological discussion about those issues, which have been dealt with at length in other places, let me pose the question: what’s so wrong with having contradictions and even inconsistencies?  The Bible presents God as a person, not merely an abstraction or a principle or a law of nature. He is violent, but he loves life; he is creative and destructive; he is holy (separate from his creation, transcendant), but he loving (connected to his creation, imminent); he is righteous (judging sin), but he is merciful (forgiving sin).  To quote Jethro Tull,“he who made kittens put snakes in the grass.” That is how our universe is - very violent (witness the recent awesome super nova), but here on earth is an oasis of life; destructive and creative; far away yet close by; both merciless and merciful.  The universe is awesome, and the God of the Bible is awesome.  I assume most of you love or are in awe of the universe, with all its contradictions.  You love people with all their contradictions.  We ourselves have contradictions, and I assume most people love themselves.  In my concept of God I have come to love both his violence and his love, his righteousness and his mercy. It’s who he is.  And I am very much like him, on a much, much, much smaller scale, and so are you.

I have more to say about the resolution of some of the inherent contradictions in God, but I will save that for later.

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Posted: 09 May 2007 04:48 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 68 ]  
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[quote author=“Bruce Burleson”] ... the Christian God, as presented in the Bible, offends many people because of the apparent contradictions in his nature, actions and commandments, and in the exercise of his freedom he may seem contradictory and arbitrary.

I can’t speak for “many people” but I can say for myself that since I lack a belief in god I can’t be offended by him. Hence, I’m not offended by any “apparent contradictions”.

What I do find offensive is:

[quote author=“Bruce Burleson”] Without getting into a theological discussion about those issues, which have been dealt with at length in other places, let me pose the question: what’s so wrong with having contradictions and even inconsistencies?

You can’t pose the question and summarily dismiss discussion of it

What’s wrong with it is (at the risk of “theological discussion”) the bible clearly teaches the doctrine of god’s immutability (unchanging nature).

And then you want to go on to:
[quote author=“Bruce Burleson”]  The Bible presents God as a person, not merely an abstraction or a principle or a law of nature. He is violent, but he loves life; he is creative and destructive; he is holy (separate from his creation, transcendant), but he loving (connected to his creation, imminent); he is righteous (judging sin), but he is merciful (forgiving sin).

Again either rejecting or ignoring the bible’s own teaching that god is immutable.

I think what “many people” find offensive is not the god thingy itself but rather the ability of a believer to be able to go on believing in the god thingy despite obvious reasons not to.

I run the risk of being guilty of criticizing you thus:
[quote author=“Woofy”]Christians will get no end of abuse and just plain unkind treatment because they are Christians, and they are living according to their beliefs.

When I say that the questions you pose would probably be best asked of your local minister or bible study group instead of a forum whose majority of members do not believe either in your god or your holy book.
That is assuming, of course, you REALLY want answers to your questions and are not actually trolling and baiting

[quote author=“Bruce Burleson”]I have more to say about the resolution of some of the inherent contradictions in God, but I will save that for later.

Despite the obvious cherry-picking I foresee coming, it nonetheless should prove interesting

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Posted: 09 May 2007 05:36 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 69 ]  
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[quote author=“Bruce Burleson”]Getting back to the topic of this thread, the Christian God, as presented in the Bible, offends many people because of the apparent contradictions in his nature, actions and commandments, and in the exercise of his freedom he may seem contradictory and arbitrary. Without getting into a theological discussion about those issues, which have been dealt with at length in other places, let me pose the question: what’s so wrong with having contradictions and even inconsistencies?

Nothing at all. What is really important is whether you decide that god has created mankind, or whether it is the other way ‘round. I know which one seems more likely to me. What puzzles me is the inclination of so many to have it the other way. People like freedom much less than they like inconsistency. Nobody has freedom forced on them, otherwise what would freedom be?

Lao-tsu says that even the softest of things can pass through a horse like invisible water.

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Posted: 09 May 2007 06:14 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 70 ]  
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I am curious, Bruce:  Do you believe the Bible to be the inerrant word of God?  Do you believe that Jesus was born of a virgin, and walked on water, and healed the blind and deaf, etc… for real? Literally?  Or do you believe the Bible is a book of metaphor and allegory?  FYI—I started out believing that the Bible was literally true, and my beliefs have changed.  I see the Bible now as myth and metaphor.  This allows me to shamelessly keep what I like, throw away what I don’t like, and not worry about being punished or rewarded either way.

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Posted: 09 May 2007 07:23 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 71 ]  
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Bruce’s description of God as lovable killer reminds me a bit of Tony Soprano.

Yeah. We’re all a little bit like Tony/Yaweh aren’t we? I mean who hasn’t indulged in a bit of good-hearted murder, rapine and bloody vengeance once in a while?

And what could be more worthy of self-abasing worship than a ‘loving’, ‘merciful’ superbeing who also happens to be ‘violent’, ‘destructive’ and self-‘righteous’? (Obviously I could have added many more of the usual revealing and unflattering adjectives to describe god’s flawed character but I thought I’d just limit myself to Bruce’s own description.)

I have come to love both his violence and his love’

Bruce, you’re a sick man.

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Posted: 09 May 2007 04:52 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 72 ]  
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[quote author=“woofy”]I am curious, Bruce:  Do you believe the Bible to be the inerrant word of God?  Do you believe that Jesus was born of a virgin, and walked on water, and healed the blind and deaf, etc… for real? Literally?  Or do you believe the Bible is a book of metaphor and allegory?  FYI—I started out believing that the Bible was literally true, and my beliefs have changed.  I see the Bible now as myth and metaphor.  This allows me to shamelessly keep what I like, throw away what I don’t like, and not worry about being punished or rewarded either way.

I believe it to be inerrant with respect to its portrayal of God - that is, God used the words of men to accurately manifest his nature. I do not believe the Bible was ever intended to be a book of science, nor do I believe that it even intends to make pronouncements about science. It speaks in the language (and subject to the knowlege) of the people that wrote it. With respect to the categories of “literal” vs. “metaphor”, it depends on the passage. The Bible gives literary clues as to whether a passage is supposed to be seen as literal or symbolic. I never see it as myth (which I understand to be the same as “untrue either literally or symbolically”), but I see the passages about the far distant past (Genesis 1-11) and the far distant future (Daniel, Revelation) as basically metaphorical - describing truth in symbolic form.  The gospel stories about Jesus are intended to be understood literally, and since I believe in a God for whom nothing is impossible, being born of a virgin etc. is no big problem for me.  I don’t blame you for your interpretation - nobody can interpret anything absolutely objectively - we all bring baggage.

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Posted: 09 May 2007 05:10 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 73 ]  
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[quote author=“DC”]What I do find offensive is:

[quote author=“Bruce Burleson”] Without getting into a theological discussion about those issues, which have been dealt with at length in other places, let me pose the question: what’s so wrong with having contradictions and even inconsistencies?

You can’t pose the question and summarily dismiss discussion of it

What’s wrong with it is (at the risk of “theological discussion”) the bible clearly teaches the doctrine of god’s immutability (unchanging nature).

I wasn’t trying to dismiss discussion.  I was simply observing that discussions about the apparent inconsistencies in the Bible have been well treated in other threads, and I don’t want to waste time repeating them.  I was assuming for the sake of argument that there are inconsistencies in the nature and commandments of God as portrayed in the Bible.

[quote author=“DC”][quote author=“Bruce Burleson”]I have more to say about the resolution of some of the inherent contradictions in God, but I will save that for later.

Despite the obvious cherry-picking I foresee coming, it nonetheless should prove interesting

I have mounted my cherry-picker and am ready to pluck the best and the juciest. Contradiction # 1 - the inherent contradiction in the name (i.e.; the nature) of God. Exodus 34:5-7.  God “proclaims his name” to Moses, meaning that he reveals his nature as exemplified by the name YHWH (the ever-becoming one; the eternally existent one).  His immutable nature is self-contradictory - v. 7 - he keeps mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, BUT by NO MEANS clearing the guilty, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children and the children’s children to the third and the fourth generation.  This passage reveals that God is merciful and forgiving (consequences of the biblical presentation of GOD AS LOVE), and yet, at the same time, wrathful and condemning (consequences of the biblical presentation of GOD AS HOLY AND RIGHTEOUS).  How can one be both merciful and forgiving, yet by NO MEANS clearing the guilty?  In the biblical presentation of God in the Bible, this inherent contradiction is resolved in the crucifixion of Christ. God punishes sin in Christ and forgives us.  The inherent contradiction is resolved, which is only possible in the Christian understanding of the Trinity. He takes upon himself the punishment for our sins, thus being true to both his loving nature and his holy nature. I am tired after picking that big cherry.  More later.

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Posted: 09 May 2007 05:14 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 74 ]  
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[quote author=“Occam’s Razor”][quote author=“Bruce Burleson”] I have come to love both his violence and his love’

Bruce, you’re a sick man.

Yes, you are right. But I am free.

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Posted: 09 May 2007 05:23 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 75 ]  
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[quote author=“Salt Creek”][quote author=“Bruce Burleson”]Getting back to the topic of this thread, the Christian God, as presented in the Bible, offends many people because of the apparent contradictions in his nature, actions and commandments, and in the exercise of his freedom he may seem contradictory and arbitrary. Without getting into a theological discussion about those issues, which have been dealt with at length in other places, let me pose the question: what’s so wrong with having contradictions and even inconsistencies?

Nothing at all. What is really important is whether you decide that god has created mankind, or whether it is the other way ‘round. I know which one seems more likely to me. What puzzles me is the inclination of so many to have it the other way. People like freedom much less than they like inconsistency. Nobody has freedom forced on them, otherwise what would freedom be?

There is no need to be puzzled. The “inclination” seems very natural to some of us. Besides, no one is really free in a system of anarchy (atheism).  Freedom is only experienced in the context of some form of security (belief).  The US is free because there an order established by a government which is established by the people. No government = no order = no freedom. In our social contract, we submit to authority to insure that we have a measure of freedom. Submission to God is no different, and I do it willingly.  That is as free as man can get.

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