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A Word to Mr. Harris and those who hold similar views:
Posted: 24 July 2007 03:52 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 91 ]  
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[quote author=“Mia”]Jesus proposes a contradiction:

“And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength: this is the first commandment. And the second is like, namely this, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. There is none other commandment greater than these.”

With ALL effort going into loving the unseen father, what is left to offer thy self, much less thy neighbor? If there’s anything left to offer either, then a man has failed to love the Father as commanded, with his ALL.


Sure, it’s likely this is just a figure of speech; we often say we give our “all” to something, without really meaning it literally. . .  but if you make that claim in the case of the primary commandment, then it too should not be taken literally.

Besides, he contradicts himself:

“If anyone comes to me and does not hate his father and mother, his wife and children, his brothers and sisters—yes, even his own life—he cannot be my disciple.” ~ Luke

How does one love a god with ALL that he has, if he in fact hates pretty much ALL that exists within his sphere of existence? If a man does not begin by loving himself, he has no well from which to draw love for others. Even imaginary  others.

Even if you wish to argue that “hate” implies “to love less than”—a claim that requires liberal use of apologetics—it still reinforces the notion that surrender to God comes before even a smidgeon of love for self or others is permitted.

Between a given Christian and a given atheist, the atheist may well be the happier, more self-accepting being, the greater humanitarian, yet the Christian will still be inclined to feel he’s the better man, because he obeys the primary commandment of first hating his wretched self and loving his master. . . which the atheist wastes no effort on. There is no way, all efforts being equal, that the True Christian (true to the commandments) can love his fellow man as the non-believer does, since the atheist is not at cross purposes when it comes to freedom  to aim love where he sees fit.

The only way Christianity works is if the believer actually does put Jesus above all else, so that everything else in comparison seems as hatred.  Then the believer has truly died to self, and has found resurrection in Christ. Then Christ can love, as only he can love, through the believer.  I know that it is rare to find such believers (indeed, if any exist). This is the great failure of Christians. To our great and open shame, we have not lived up to our name. 

Jesus said in John 10:37 - “If I do not do the works of my Father, do not believe me.”  You have every right to apply that to Christians today.  Tell them to put up or shut up.  But he also said in John 10;38 - “but if I do, though you do not believe Me, believe the works, that you may know and believe that the Father is in Me, and I in Him.”  If you ever see a Christian actually acting like Jesus, I believe you will believe.

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Posted: 24 July 2007 07:58 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 92 ]  
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[quote author=“Bruce Burleson”]
If you ever see a Christian actually acting like Jesus, I believe you will believe.

And what do you suggest I believe if that person turns out to be an atheist?

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Posted: 25 July 2007 12:06 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 93 ]  
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[quote author=“Bruce Burleson”]The only way Christianity works is if the believer actually does put Jesus above all else .

So, for the most part, it’s not working? Maybe we’re finding some common ground here.

C’mon, Bruce, you didn’t get to be a lawyer by putting Jesus above all else, you got there by putting personal ambition above all else—not a bad thing. Give yourself a little credit, it was you that took all those tests, not Jesus.

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Posted: 25 July 2007 05:40 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 94 ]  
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Bruce Burleson:

The only way Christianity works is if the believer actually does put Jesus above all else, so that everything else in comparison seems as hatred. Then the believer has truly died to self, and has found resurrection in Christ. Then Christ can love, as only he can love, through the believer. I know that it is rare to find such believers (indeed, if any exist). This is the great failure of Christians. To our great and open shame, we have not lived up to our name.

Jesus said in John 10:37 - “If I do not do the works of my Father, do not believe me.” You have every right to apply that to Christians today. Tell them to put up or shut up. But he also said in John 10;38 - “but if I do, though you do not believe Me, believe the works, that you may know and believe that the Father is in Me, and I in Him.” If you ever see a Christian actually acting like Jesus, I believe you will believe. The only way Christianity works is if the believer actually does put Jesus above all else, so that everything else in comparison seems as hatred.

The difference between you and me is that you believe that we each need to basically kill the Self to even start living and loving while I believe that the Self is a perfect, even with all its imperfections, little being all set to start living and loving.

You’ve actually brought to light another psychologically damaging teaching of the church that people are by nature sinful, bad and unclean and that you need to be cleansed and resurrected by some non-human entity in order to have any real worth.  I believe that people are basically good and will behave appropriately as long as their basic needs are being met.  I can’t imagine lining up my kids each day to repeat such crap as the Christian Confession of Sins for them to start out their week believing they’re basically damaged goods and powerless change their wayward ways without the help of an all-powerful imaginary friend.  I’m much more for teaching self-worth and self-reliance, personal responsibility and respect, for their perfectly imperfect little selves and others’ perfectly imperfect selves as well.

It would seem by the words you have posted here that you think it is quite impossible to really love without believing in God and Jesus first.  Does that mean that my godless and Jesusless love for my children, husband, parents, family, friends and team mates, or my godless love of chocolate, hockey and music isn’t real?  Or that it, at minimum, isn’t as good or pure a love as the love you have for your family, friends and favorite things? 

If you do feel sorry for me and other non-believers that we just haven’t experienced ‘true’ love yet, that just brings us back to the inescapable arrogance of Christian ideology that Christian anything is better than non-Christian everything, even the most basic of human emotions.  Which again brings us back to the harmful truth that Christianity works to separate and segregate people, not bring them together.

Until you believe that Christians don’t hold the monopoly on love and all things good, and that Christians aren’t the better and more enlightened, no matter how well you try to treat your neighbor or how many good works you perform, you’ll be building walls between yourself and your neighbors and you’ll feel disconnected from the world and all the people in it.

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Posted: 25 July 2007 06:07 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 95 ]  
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[quote author=“Bruce Burleson”]I know that it is rare to find such believers (indeed, if any exist). This is the great failure of Christians. To our great and open shame, we have not lived up to our name.

This “great and open shame” - isn’t it really self-martyrdom in a way? Isn’t it reallly a pride in failure? A means of maintaining inferiority in relation to your god?

It’s unhealthy.

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Posted: 25 July 2007 06:34 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 96 ]  
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[quote author=“Rasmussen”]It would seem by the words you have posted here that you think it is quite impossible to really love without believing in God and Jesus first.  Does that mean that my godless and Jesusless love for my children, husband, parents, family, friends and team mates, or my godless love of chocolate, hockey and music isn’t real?  Or that it, at minimum, isn’t as good or pure a love as the love you have for your family, friends and favorite things?

I am quite sure that the love you have is real.  Christianity posits a higher spiritual love that begins with our love of God and manifests itself tangibly in love for others in the way that Jesus loved.  We don’t see too many examples of it because most Christians don’t really focus on the first part.   

[quote author=“Rasmussen”]If you do feel sorry for me and other non-believers that we just haven’t experienced ‘true’ love yet, that just brings us back to the inescapable arrogance of Christian ideology that Christian anything is better than non-Christian everything, even the most basic of human emotions.  Which again brings us back to the harmful truth that Christianity works to separate and segregate people, not bring them together.

You don’t seem to feel sorry for yourself, so I don’t feel sorry for you either.  I’m just discussing the concept of Christian love as set forth in the Bible.  I guess I’m sort of in the same place as a practitioner of Buddhism that hasn’t experienced enlightenment yet.  I’m moving in the direction of experiencing this love, in faith that it exists.  I’m not there yet.

[quote author=“Rasmussen”] Until you believe that Christians don’t hold the monopoly on love and all things good, and that Christians aren’t the better and more enlightened, no matter how well you try to treat your neighbor or how many good works you perform, you’ll be building walls between yourself and your neighbors and you’ll feel disconnected from the world and all the people in it.

Well, in practice I feel extremely connected to the world and the people in it.  You perceive of me as being arrogant, and I guess that’s my fault.  Non-believers do wonderful things and experience human love like the rest of us, I’m sure.  Actually, I don’t have too many walls in my life. I’m connected with other ethnic groups in my community, work with orphanages in Guatemala and India, and am involved in a variety of civic organizations in my city.  It seems to me that, worldwide, atheists are a lot more isolated than believers.  But I am learning that we both have mistaken ideas about each other.  If we put aside the issue of belief vs. non-belief, I think I would probably get along fine with everyone I have communicated with.  This forum is unlike anything I have ever experienced - I’ve never been consistently challenged on my basic attitudes like I have here, and it has been both illuminating and disconcerting.

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Posted: 25 July 2007 06:37 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 97 ]  
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[quote author=“Mia”][quote author=“Bruce Burleson”]
If you ever see a Christian actually acting like Jesus, I believe you will believe.

And what do you suggest I believe if that person turns out to be an atheist?

I don’t know, Mia.  I’m sure that there are probably atheists that act more like Jesus on a daily basis than Christians do.  If I had to base my faith on what I see Christians doing, I probably wouldn’t believe, either.

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Posted: 25 July 2007 10:26 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 98 ]  
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Where’s Vic?

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Posted: 25 July 2007 10:44 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 99 ]  
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[quote author=“g.wood”]Where’s Vic?

I think he got tired of being beaten up, took his ball, glove and bat and went to another playground.

You gotta have a pretty thick skin to be a christian and attempt to defend or promote your religion to the collection of us lost souls, heathens and uncivilized savages that frequent this forum. If we don’t get you, the smart ones will.

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“We have it recorded in a book called the Bible.”

To be blunt, the Bible records all manner of silly shit.

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Posted: 25 July 2007 05:05 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 100 ]  
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Bruce Burleson wrote:

I guess I’m sort of in the same place as a practitioner of Buddhism that hasn’t experienced enlightenment yet. I’m moving in the direction of experiencing this love, in faith that it exists. I’m not there yet.

Reminds me of the Stages of Spiritual Growth as outlined by M. Scott Peck which I posted here almost two years ago.  If the stages are an accurate enough description of spiritual growth, looks like you’re sitting in stage ii and we atheists are sitting in stage iii but we’re all trying to get to stage iv.

It seems to me that, worldwide, atheists are a lot more isolated than believers. But I am learning that we both have mistaken ideas about each other.

Depends on which parts of the world you’re talking about.  Guatemala and India have populations with religious majorities, but if you were to travel to say northern Europe, any of the Scandinavian countries or even certain parts of Canada (Montreal being one of them), you’d find atheists make up at least half if not more of the population which provides the opposite dynamic in many areas of having the religious being the more isolated members of society.

If we put aside the issue of belief vs. non-belief, I think I would probably get along fine with everyone I have communicated with.

Maybe because there are people on both sides of the fence who are genuinely just trying to understand the human experience.

This forum is unlike anything I have ever experienced - I’ve never been consistently challenged on my basic attitudes like I have here, and it has been both illuminating and disconcerting.

Ain’t it fun though?

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Posted: 26 July 2007 12:23 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 101 ]  
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Bruce Burleson wrote:

I am quite sure that the love you have is real. Christianity posits a higher spiritual love that begins with our love of God and manifests itself tangibly in love for others in the way that Jesus loved. We don’t see too many examples of it because most Christians don’t really focus on the first part.

You don’t seem to feel sorry for yourself, so I don’t feel sorry for you either. I’m just discussing the concept of Christian love as set forth in the Bible. I guess I’m sort of in the same place as a practitioner of Buddhism that hasn’t experienced enlightenment yet. I’m moving in the direction of experiencing this love, in faith that it exists. I’m not there yet.

One extra thought … Other spiritual philosophies and religions besides Christianity refer to a “higher spiritual love.”  Ghandi, for instance, thought Jesus’ teachings had great value in this regard but he didn’t label this higher love as “Christian.” 

Christian love, because it comes with all the conditions and limits imposed by the Bible and the Church, dictating who and what you should and should not love and in what order; by its own definition, Christian love can only be experienced among Christians and therefore falls way short of being higher love.  The most fundamental of Christians will even add that only their denomination of Christian holds the title to God and higher love.

Trying to box and define something that is essentially limitless only makes it that much more impossible to understand.

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Posted: 26 July 2007 04:07 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 102 ]  
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[quote author=“Rasmussen”]Bruce Burleson wrote:

I guess I’m sort of in the same place as a practitioner of Buddhism that hasn’t experienced enlightenment yet. I’m moving in the direction of experiencing this love, in faith that it exists. I’m not there yet.

Reminds me of the Stages of Spiritual Growth as outlined by M. Scott Peck which I posted here almost two years ago.  If the stages are an accurate enough description of spiritual growth, looks like you’re sitting in stage ii and we atheists are sitting in stage iii but we’re all trying to get to stage iv.

Good Lord, that is an arrogant comment. Stage ii is blind faith.  I left that one a long time ago. I don’t know what stage I’m in, or if Peck is even right.  I believe what I believe because I am convinced of it by personal experience, whether or not atheists accept my experiences as being valid.

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Posted: 26 July 2007 05:48 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 103 ]  
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Bruce wrote:

Good Lord, that is an arrogant comment. Stage ii is blind faith. I left that one a long time ago. I don’t know what stage I’m in, or if Peck is even right. I believe what I believe because I am convinced of it by personal experience, whether or not atheists accept my experiences as being valid.

Stage ii is described as Formal, Institutional and Fundamental.  It would include all those that hold fast to a blind faith, but it would also include those who are just passing through and about to move beyond stage ii into either stage iii or stage iv. 

There’s a more detailed explanation of the stages here.

The comment is arrogant only if you are indeed blinded by one faith or another and you never manage to think beyond the parameters of that religion and end up stuck in stage ii throughout your life.  I can’t help it that atheists fall in stage iii even though blind faith stage ii-ers would categorize us as stage i. 

Who knew that doubting what your church elders preached could actually nudge you a little further along your path to spiritual development?

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Posted: 26 July 2007 06:34 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 104 ]  
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[quote author=“Rasmussen”]Bruce wrote:

Good Lord, that is an arrogant comment. Stage ii is blind faith. I left that one a long time ago. I don’t know what stage I’m in, or if Peck is even right. I believe what I believe because I am convinced of it by personal experience, whether or not atheists accept my experiences as being valid.

Stage ii is described as Formal, Institutional and Fundamental.  It would include all those that hold fast to a blind faith, but it would also include those who are just passing through and about to move beyond stage ii into either stage iii or stage iv. 

There’s a more detailed explanation of the stages here.

The comment is arrogant only if you are indeed blinded by one faith or another and you never manage to think beyond the parameters of that religion and end up stuck in stage ii throughout your life.  I can’t help it that atheists fall in stage iii even though blind faith stage ii-ers would categorize us as stage i. 

Who knew that doubting what your church elders preached could actually nudge you a little further along your path to spiritual development?

Reminds me of a set of stages published by the Islamic theologian al Ghazali (1059 - 1111), It goes in two parts, first a Piagetian type listing of the “spirits” found in humans:
1. The sensible spirit: Receives input from the senses, present in infants.
2. The imaginal spirit: Fixes sensory input in memory, and makes comparisons to images in memory.
3. The rational spirit: Perceives meaning beyond the senses and imagination, it is specifically human and is not found in children. 
4. The reflective spirit: Takes rational knowledge, makes associations, permutations and combinations to derive consequences.
5. The prophetic spirit: A inspired intuitive grasping of spiritual realities.

After than, he lists levels of spiritual development: (sorry, but the atheists are at the bottom grin

Those Veiled by Pure Darkness
Atheists and Materialists
Those subject to caprice and appetite
i) physical pleasure
ii) power and predation
iii) wealth and property
iv) honor and fame

Those Veiled by Light and Darkness
Darkness of the senses:
-idol worshippers (veiled by the light of power and beauty in matter)
-worshippers of beauty as it manifests in the material world.
-fire worshippers
-astral worshippers
-sun worship
-worshippers of light alone (these are dualists, equating darkness with evil)

Darkness of Imagination
-those who worship an internal image in the mind (from an old man on a cloud to a subtle philosophical image)

Darkness of Corrupt Rational Comparison
-those who attribute human attributes to the transcendent (e.g., imagining that God has senses in the same way as humans do)
-those who believe that God’s speech is like thought, without sound or letters.

Those Veiled by Pure Light
i) Those who believe that God is the mover of the heavens and the earth
ii) Those who believe that God moves only the empyrean
iii) Those who believe that God only commands the motion of the heavens. 

Those who Have Arrived
Realization that the creator is beyond even the command for the motion of the heavens.
-Those who see the divine in everything but remain present themselves
-Those who are annihilated in the divine.

(Note the use of Aristotle’s cosmology, and the similarity to the Stoic idea of astral ascent.)

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Posted: 26 July 2007 07:07 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 105 ]  
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Hi, Burt ...

Interesting to have another set of stages of growth, but since all al Ghazali’s stages require a belief in a supernatural creator God, his whole list would fall under Peck’s stage ii.  His stages of growth basically describe one’s journey to the limits of any of the textbook faiths - Islam, Christianity or Judaism.  Atheists would of course be at the bottom of his list because we don’t believe in a creator God and therefore are not about to begin a journey through one of the textbook faiths.

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