Hello. I have read much of your posts (not all) and have much to comment on. Rather than write a book, I thought I would take the most provocative item (IMO) that you wrote and comment on it:
In the end, it comes to the matter of faith. What are you going to stand upon, what foundation are you to live by? Humanists have faith in humanity.
I am a humanist. Do I have faith in Humanity? Collectively, yes kind of. But I recognize that there are no gaurantees that humans, regardless of ideology, will act rightly and choose the better path consistently. The prisons are full of people from all walks of religion and anti religion the world over.
Hence humanism must adhere to the strengths and weaknesses of humanity, because humanity is humanity’s god.
How does Christianity not apply to this definition? Let me try:
Christianity must adhere to the strengths and weaknesses of humanity, because humanity is Christianity’s god.
You’ll probably disagree sharply. But what net effect for good does a Christian have over a Humanist? In order for the calculus to fit your higher ground, you too depend on the same humanity as I do for good to appear in the confines of your world view—same as the Humanist or any man for that matter. We all exist in a good better best choice making world. No one is exempt.
I say to you that because of your doctrine of free will, you depend on the overall human capacity to choose in order for benevolence to bear fruit. What you might have a slight advantage in this dispute is that in Christianity, said benevolence certainly appears to be fostered more forcefully (coerced on threat of damnation to a gruesome afterlife).
Humans worshiping humans,
And man created god in his own image.
I am sure you heard that clever anecdote before. But it rings out here. As a Humanist, I do not worship any human. I do however, celebrate the capacity to choose rightly without threat of punishment. There are stages of morality that most humans go through in their evolution towards death. If they are wise, they learn to function on a global/macro scale in that they pause seriously to reflect on how their actions in a given scenario might effect the world around them. (Google Kohlberg for any hit on this theory). If they are imprudent, they never graduae past acting out of selfishness and self preservation, the lower stages of morality. Religion plays into the development of morality. The obvious foul taste is from the carrot on the end of the stick type morality that is so prevelant.
Will a god condemn one who achieves the higher stages of morality without his religion?
from the Greek Hellenism worldview to Humanism today, it is the same point of view.
okay, I see where you are going…
I, on the other hand, have faith, through the process of reason and reasoning, through the powers of deduction and contemplation, have faith in GOD.
But FranklinBR when you say this, you mean you have faith in the human capacity to choose rightly and nobly. Which boils down, after you slice it finely, to humanity. You sir, have a Humanist streak.
You have faith that any man who believes that a god is real, and that this god is capable of punishing immoral human behaviors fiercely, stands more of a chance to choose rightly than any man who does not believe in a god. And that is simply not proven. If it has been proven, I would be interested in discussing that.
I cannot see GOD, though I can see His shadow in the workings of my life. I can not touch GOD, but I can feel His hand holding me through the bad times I may go through.
Am I safe in saying that you feel the threat of eternal punishment and the hopes of a glorious reward (mansions in heaven, 72 virgins or whatever) motivating you to act rightly? Is this not the hand of your god?
I then looked at the sociology of the human race (from the earliest of groups all the way to now) and saw the flaws and saw the hopes and saw the pains and saw the wishes. Further reason to believe in GOD.
I am quite curious as to what “sociology” you looked at, and just how closely you understood it. If indeed you looked at the sociology and anthropology of early man through current times (which would take many many many many years of dedicated study on its own) you would have learned a few things:
1) You would have seen how human cultures form bonds with the other members of their tribes/civilizations/cultures.
2) You would have learned about how thes societies transform and symbolize their connections and solidarity into the concept that is known as “god.”
3) You would have learned that god was never invented to explain anything, merely he was a representation of society.
4) You would have learned that the different religions you examined constituted moral orders, and that god was invented to symbolize the tenets of that moral order. This makes sense given the enormous array of different gods and god structures (mono vs poly) that different cultures have developed.
“and saw the flaws and saw the hopes and saw the pains and saw the wishes. Further reason to believe in GOD. “
How in any way do flaws, hopes, pains, and wishes lead in ANY way to belief in God? This is absolutely horrid evidence. If i want to be to be rich, yet i do not have the capabilities to excel in the endevour i pick (say, business), and i try really hard but in the end fail, that is reason to believe in god???
Christianity verses humanism is, when you get down to it, faith toward a specific idea. Toward a specific matrix and paradigm. Worldview verse worldview that are fully opposite of one another. Christianity is a paradigm that insists that we cannot be an extension of ourselves, that we can only lead ourselves so far…that we ultimately come to a chasm that we cannot breach on our own accord. Humanism, on the other end, is a belief that humans can lead humans toward a specific destiny using man-aimed ideologies within individuals and with a society as a whole. Christianity says that man is inherently evil, that we are flawed, that we are not capable of saving ourselves. Humanism on the other hand says that society can be good as long as society aims toward human objectives and objectivity. Christianity worship the Creator, a specific GOD, a specific Intelligence that not only Creates but, ultimately, gives us the free will to chose Him so that we may be saved—ultimately—from our own dark doom. That is, GOD doesn’t threaten hell, GOD allows you to choose either eternity with Him or choose eternity without Him. Humanism aims toward the idea that because there is no god, we save ourselves and when we die…that’s it. We die. Time flows onward and for every Caesar and for every Shakespeare, there is a multitude of unknown people past, present, future. Christianity says that GOD will provide for us, for those of us who choose Him and humble ourselves before Him, a utopia not on our accord but upon His as He describes throughout the prophecies of the Old and New Testament. We have a fate that we can ultimately choose. We have a greater aim that we can choose to follow or choose to turn away from. Humanism, on the other hand, seems to indicate that humans can create for ourselves our own utopia…a belief that human inspired utopian that has been around for ages but has never and will never be completed simply because, as Christianity points out, humans are flawed—humanism, on the other hand, does not see this, and so humanism (throughout the ages, different titles, same beliefs) keeps striving for that something. Humanism says that this utopia can be founded on ideologies that, in all honestly, will break apart because…as the Christian knows so well, people are flawed and people are corrupt no matter how nice they say they are. Then there’s the idea of Christianity’s view of morality verses the humanist’s view of morality. One is built on eternal blessings and consequences the other is built upon convenience for people. I don’t think that morality is a carrot hanging from a stick. Morality is not just me saying “I’m not going to hit Bob because Bob scratched the side of my car.” Morality is a step higher than, often times, our perceptions. Morality for a Christian is an ever expanding road while morality for a humanist which is a dead end street. Morality leads you onward, teaching you if you are willing to be taught, ministering to you if you are willing to be ministered. Morality is, as the Book of Proverbs shows, two women, in a sense. One being that of Lady Wisdom who offers you a higher goal, the other being that of Dame Folly who offers you your base wants. The higher goal is not just that you will be sitting on some cloud playing a harp. The higher goal is to be in a full and total relationship with the eternal one that is a Creator and a Savior. The baser wants that so many people in society seem to enjoy clinging to are just good for the here and now but not for eternity. And so do I feel the threat of hell over my shoulders that makes me run to the church, cross myself, pray with fear? No. I do not fear hell. I accept the existence of hell because I see that GOD is a just GOD and that GOD must allow there to be an understanding of consequences not just here in this life but throughout eternity. Something the humanist does not see because the humanist does not perceive the eternal, only the here and now. I kneel before GOD because I see that the extent of myself can only go so far, that no matter how much I wish it, I cannot save myself from drowning. I cannot swim across the channel on my own accord. And that there is Someone holding His hand out to me to save me from the drowning (amusingly saying, you CAN choose to either take the hand of someone trying to save you from drowning or you can choose to see if you can save yourself from the monstrous waves). And I don’t think of any rewards to be honest except the peace and the love that I know GOD offers to me not just now but for eternity. I mean yes there’s the idea of a pure robe, of crowns, et cetera, but rewards are just that, rewards, they aren’t the end all to the experience. When your mother gives you a reward for doing well in school, do you love the reward? No! You love your mother for seeing your hard work and showing love because of the hard work you have done by giving you the reward. You don’t love the reward, you love the giver of the reward!
You are right, I did not do a ten year exploration of sociology. Then again, who does except sociologists trying not to work at McDonalds! When you study sociology you are exploring human interaction amongst the culture they live in, whether that culture is Eastern or Western, whether that culture is that of ancient Rome or modern United States. Thus what I did, through the capabilities I have, was explore human history. Exploring works of history through such books as Norman Davies’ Europe, William G Sinnigen’s A History of Rome To AD 565, Richard S Dunn’s The Age of Religious Wars 1559-1715, W Scott Morton’s Japan, Vincent Harding’s There is a River, Ernst Breisach’s Historiography: Ancient, Medieval, & Modern. Also, I can also add the book Church History by Everett Ferguson and the book The World That Shaped The New Testament by Calvin J Roetzel. For a more modern approach to examining society, you have such wonderful works as Tom Dent’s Southern Journey, Hajo Holborn’s A History of Modern Germany, Ronald H Spector’s After Tet, and Stephen Ambrose’s Witnness to America. And yes it took several years for me to read all of these works, they were not read over night nor using cliff notes. Through reading such works you begin to see patterns, cat’s cradle pattern’s yes, but still patterns that flow through time and space, through human hope and human frailty, along the matrix of human dreams and human ambitions and human nightmares and human death. You ask yourself while reading such works, what does that society has to offer for itself and for the surrounding territories? You consider to yourself what that society holds honorable and what that society holds in condemnation. How does the Jewish belief (when dealing with OT faithful Jews from Moses through Ezra) conflict with the world’s belief (same time period but aimed toward those Jews who would compromise the truth of Yahweh for the sake of worldly things and worldly pleasures). How does the Christian belief (the new paradigm given by GOD to humans, first the Jews then to the Gentiles) holds in comparison to that of the world’s beliefs, whether we are talking about Hellenistic humanism or we are talking about the “anything goes” of Roman belief systems. What does the society say about this at that time? What are the comparisons and what are the contradictions between this set of group to that set of group? What does this information have to say to myself today? What does this information have to say to society as a whole today? How did the individuals, from the apostles to the early Christians, shape themselves and the world (in their city, their countryside, their province of Rome) around them? To shaping the actual very world around them for the world at that time all the way to today? What are the impacts then and what are the impacts now? Then again, you wish to say that GOD is just an extension of society’s desires, when you look at the society of Hellenism, for example, or Babylon, or Egypt, yes. Their god’s are an extension of themselves or the elements, living in the creation and being a part of the creation. In Judaism and in the quantum leap of faith to that of Christianity, GOD is not an extension of myself. He is not some chap sitting on my shoulders, nor was He to the early Jews through Christianity. He is not the creation, He is the creator, He is not some one who acts through very human emotion (such as the Greek god’s did…and mind you, the Greeks did not love their gods, they just wanted to appease their gods), instead He is someone who wants a relationship, an intimate relationship, not just with you but with the world if the world is willing to choose (that is, unheard of by the Greeks and Romans because the gods to them were not to be loved, nor did they want to love, the Jewish-Christian GOD on the other hand shows the true paradigm of relationship that is not just here and now but also eternal). That is the decision I make, then, as a Christian. You ask about flaws? I see GOD in the flaws because I know that I am flawed and that, as I mentioned before, if I was drowning I could not rescue myself…I need a rescuer. You ask about hopes? I see a hope for a greater future, not one where man keeps falling but a future where GOD is seen as the center of a balanced wheel of hope and aspirations and love and trust. I am not ashamed of being a Christian. I am not hiding under the covers in fear of hell. I am practicing free will to have eyes that see and ears that hear and a heart that leaps at the mystery and the majesty. You ask about excelling and failing? By seeing that GOD is there, and that there IS a need for GOD to heal the brokenness of my heart and soul (I say need of GOD because we have, again, the free will to see or to not see Him), I follow His ministry to mind and heart. If I succeed, it is not on my accord, but through His will. If I fail, it is not that He is weak, it is just that is not the fate. Whether there is success and failure, and mind you I would be the first to admit that I’ve known both success and failure, what I am willing to do is…though I don’t always understand (and who does?) this life that I have here, right now, I am willing to trust in the eternal that is GOD. Trust that through storms and through shinny days, that I have that eternal One, by the nail pierced hands of His, walking by my side and leading me on the sacred romance, the sacred journey, the sacred aim Home—not the home of this world, because moths and termites and wars and flooding can easily do away with such homes—but the sacred home that is with Him.
Does this answer all the questions you might have? No, I doubt it. But then again, I think we are all adults here and that we can converse and consider and be mindful toward what we both have to say. I may, in the end, so to speak, say let us agree to disagree, but at least we can try to step into each other’s shoes. I am trying to be mindful and respectful with my approach here because I am fairly certain to see that Mr. Harris has been threatened, attacked, etc by those calling themselves Christians (something I wont judge about them, but I say their actions are wrong). Instead, I am trying to give an intelligent reason why I am who I am in order to represent at least my small little portion of Christianity.
First up I must say that you probably can write one hell of an interesting sermon.
However, based on the long winded passages you write, it seems that you haven’t really undrstood the things you have read. Either that, or you chose to ignore them in deference to your christianity.
You say that you do not fear hell, thats good. But you do say that you need a rescuer. To me that implies that you are basically incapable of finding any meaning to life on your own, and you are dependant on fictional characters to help you struggle through life.
You believe that god has offered everyone the path to sit by his side in heaven by accepting jesus christ. So what about all the people who lived before JC make his grand appearance?
God gave the law to the jews first ( i’ll go with your timeline), so, are the jews then wrong for continuing to follow god’s original word, or are they doomed to (i’ve got to quote this!) “do the enternal backstroke in the lake of fire” because they refuse to accept the unbelievable notion of the dvinity of JC? It would have been nice for god to let EVERYBODY know (after he allowed the creation of paganism, judaism, and every other present mythology) that he came out with a revision, and that those who didn’t ascribe to it would get toasted.
“Then again, you wish to say that GOD is just an extension of society’s desires, when you look at the society of Hellenism, for example, or Babylon, or Egypt, yes. Their god’s are an extension of themselves or the elements, living in the creation and being a part of the creation. In Judaism and in the quantum leap of faith to that of Christianity, GOD is not an extension of myself. He is not some chap sitting on my shoulders, nor was He to the early Jews through Christianity. He is not the creation, He is the creator”
This has been raised already, what if the “creator” was an alien who is long since dead or no longer cares about the earth? If an alien came to earth and said that he created the earth and showed signs of amazing technology, would you worship him as your god?
Your quantum leap of faith gives no validity to accept that the god of the jews and the christians is any more substantial than the hellenists, whose gods were as you can clearly understand extensions of their desires.
And, please don’t take this to be rude, but when you do respond (and i appreciatet you continuing to do so) can you keep out the cavalcade of verbage, and just speak normally? Or, if this IS how you speak normally, use some more paragraphs!
[quote author=“FranklinBR”]I would humorously like to point out that there are Shakespearian plays that have, through some historical and literary interpretation, believe that they might not be written by Shakespeare. You have to, interestingly enough, take in faith that these works are written by Shakespeare. But you do not know 100% that they were, that what you are reading is by Shakespeare or by someone else? His mother? Sister? Brother? Uncle? Next door neighbor two houses down? When you look at Macbeth you have to say, fairly surely, that you see this as Shakespeare’s work through faith. So what does this have to do with watchmaker? Or a dead painter? You have to have faith that a specific person created the watch. You have to have faith that the painting you are seeing is by Monet rather than either a false painting that wasn’t painted by Monet or a forgery of one of Monet’s paintings. That the watch, so the point goes, did not create itself nor did the parts just “naturally” come together through chance while maintaining a degree away from the forces of chaos (that is, disunity and the idea that matter breaks up rather than comes together).
While I may not be sure who wrote Macbeth, I can be certain that the letters didn’t assemble themselves. As for life on our planet, I can’t make the same assumption. You say that ID is not the same as Creationism but they both make claims about the origin of life and the universe. If there is an intelligent designer capable of creating everything we see around us, wouldn’t that creature be indistinguishable from your GOD?
ID claims that life is too complex to have occurred spontaneously, but there is no test that can prove or disprove the hypothesis that someone or something designed us. While the probability of molecules coming together to form life may be slim, it could easily be argued that since we are here it must have happened. After all, the individual odds of winning the lottery are equally slim but someone manages to win anyway. One could also theorize that the Big Bang created an infinite number of universes and, like with quantum physics, it is only the fact that we are here to observe and measure it that this universe is more real than any other.
ID claims that life is too complex to have occurred spontaneously, but there is no test that can prove or disprove the hypothesis that someone or something designed us. .
No matter what, you would be hard pressed to speculate an orgin. Provided that the universe is expanding from a central location, and relative to the big bang theory, upon the presence (creation or otherwise) of time and matter there HAS been evolution. (whether intelligently designed or otherwise) Since the religious are so hard pressed to see humans as evolving… take it out of the equation for a moment. Look just at plants. Plants are evolving, mutating, changing to fit into different environments. This is a very AVAILABLE observation. It is even observable in a single human lifetime.
The universe, time and all, is finite in scope. We can only observe to its boundaries: not the edge of the universe visually… but what we know can only be observed WITHIN the ball. Outside of the ball, may be anything… and it is entirely speculative what that may be.
As a deist, I speculate and reason that this ball was created. I have no proof, and I do not care to give any. (I also do not want you to worship my God, give me any money, etc. My God is mine alone. Get your own if you want to.) It doesn’t concern me what was the cause of causation. That is out of scope to a second degree. I only concern myself to speculate the causation itself: what brought this universe here. People internalize the question of God. God didn’t create any of us. Our parents did. Not one person on this planet is a direct creation by God.
Religionists blind themselves to the evolution that is occuring in the world. I think it is silly and foolish to not admit truth in the observable reality. My God created all of this universe including evolution. My god is merely causation… the unknowable orgin. My god comes with no strings attached.
FranklinBR, welcome to my obsession, friend. I hope you continue to hang out here for as long as you’re comfortable, though I’ll go along with the opinion of several others who have asked you to be a bit more compact. I suspect future parishioners will no doubt appreciate your adopting such a habit, as well. Just a suggestion, and no offense is intended.
My copy of Sam Harris’ latest book is already loaned out to a friend so I can’t cite the exact page number, but I remember him quoting Adolph Hitler fairly extensively. Would you agree with Sam Harris that Hitler was a Christian? If not, would you agree with me that Hitler had at least been raised into a Christian society? If you disagree, I’ll accept your disagreement. I’m not trying to entrap you by any means, though I may want to argue back and forth with you just a bit about this particular point, if you’re willing.
I was glad to read that you’ve been a serious student of sociology, FranklinBR. Are you also a history buff? Are you aware of the fact that European Christians for many centuries acted viciously toward Jews? Truly horrific actions came not from only a select few Christians, but massive numbers of them, which, as I’m sure you already know, culminated in the mid-twentieth century. In case you’re not already aware of some of what took place, here’s a link for you to look over. Please get back to us if you find anything to disagree with regarding this website. I’ve already practically begged several other Christians here and only one responded by telling me that he would be writing a letter to Sam Harris informing him of how impolite I am, then he stopped posting here altogether. http://www.vexen.co.uk/religion/antisemitism.html
I’ll be honest with you and admit that I’m not a history buff and truly would appreciate insightful feedback about the information provided in the above website. If its history is bunk (to paraphrase Henry Ford), I hope someone will tell me about it so I can stop making a fool of myself by spreading around its misinformation.
Only three more questions: How is it that Christianity is historically associated with anti-Semitism? How did that manage to happen? Do you think any future sociological factors (such as more Mel Gibson movies being produced) might ever bring back the vivid anti-Jewish attitudes and behaviors that accompanied the entire history of Christianity?
Franklin, I really hope you take some time to look over some of the threads on this entire forum. How can you resist, right?
I don’t have a lot of time today to write replies due to work (retail) and getting ready for church tomorrow. But here are some replies, condensed (which I am sure you’d be happy about!), but some major points of interest through reading the replies to my replies!
Concerning Hitler. Yes he did say he was a Christian at one point from what I recall, then again, I can say that I am tall, dark and handsome just because I am tall and have dark hair (we can debate over the handsome part I am sure lol), but that doesn’t make me the next cover man for GQ. Of course you have to realize that for the most part Europe has always had an Anti-Semitic ideology in the background, not just Germany. Remember also that though Hitler did try to win over much of the Christians to support his horrific ideologies, there were indeed Christians that fought against him and were willing to stake their life to helping the Jewish people. I would like to suggest to all of you to read the book Standing With Israel by David Brog. This chap Brog is not a Christian, he is a Jew, but he does bring up some wonderful points toward the connection between Christians and Jews in his examination of replacement theology, racism, communication, and reconciliation. I highly recommend the book and have even been buying copies to give to my friends. I myself am firmly against racism, whether it is toward African Americans or toward Jews (I especially hate racism toward the Jewish people), and I would rather stand and die then lay down and compromise against racism.
To Guest and to camanintx
And you are free at least between you and I to worship what you wish to worship. I wish not to be here to make all of you change your minds or think the same things that I think. The reason I am here is not to convert all of you and to make sure you all come to my church this Sunday. I understand your argument, I agree with some points, but on the other hand, I disagree with some points as well. When I say that I am ID the ID believes that through the Big Bang along with cosmic evolution (that is, the development from the energies released from the Big Bang all the way to the development of this solar system) there was an Intelligence behind all the development, an Artist, the greatest Artist. I am a supporter of the idea that there had to be a first Cause, a first Developer, to create what we see and what we do not see as the universe amongst all the other universes. I also believe in Creation, that the same ID is the same one that I know, love, humble myself, explore, whose name is Yahweh and, in these NT days, I speak and learn from Him through Himself as Jesus Christ. As I said before, a Creationist will normally be an ID believer, but an ID believer does not always have to be a Christian Creationists. For example, to be a believer in ID you do not, and I have known several ID believers, have to believe in the gospel of Jesus Christ. You don’t even have to believe in Jesus Christ to be a ID believer, you just believe that Someone started the ball rolling. Still, I have several books myself on ID and Creationism together, I would like to suggest to all of you, at least if you wish to, to read the following two books: Hugh Ross’ The Fingerprints Of God and David Snoke’s A Biblical Case For An Old Earth.
I really don’t know what “God” you worship. I might be able to compare notes if I did. But again, I am not here to make you, to force anyone of you, to believe exactly as I believe. I am only trying to intelligently interact with those who have read the book Letter To A Christian Nation. I am only trying, through use of my computer and brain (whether you might say that’s a good thing or not, we can argue upon that note ) and my readings and beliefs, to answer what Mr. Harris writes about. I am not trying to attack anyone of you, I just wish to have my say with all respect to you.
Yes, I will admit that I do suffer from manic depression and yes I am a Christian. Of course, I have only been a Christian for five years and I have suffered manic depression over twenty years. I do not think that just because I have to take meds that means that I am deluding myself through these meds and through the waves of depression that there is a GOD and He loves me. Heck, I’ve met plenty of atheists who are manic depressives and take meds. Then again, I’ve met Wiccans, Shinto followers, Buddhists, etc. who suffer from manic depression. I wish to say that I do not come to Christianity with emotional fears and troubles clinging to the Bible like some child clinging to his covers in the dark room at night. I have made a rational decision, a specific decision, using not just emotions (because we are all emotional beings, that’s what makes most of us humans) but also through a process of deductions. The Bible actually warns here and there about coming to the Bible and to faith through emotions and only through emotions. Emotions are good, but they should not be the end all when making decisions in life (whatever those decisions may be, not just religious decisions).
Concerning what about the people before Jesus Christ came into the world. Well, we in fact studied that in my Old Testament I and II classes. The world first had its conscious to choose between following the Creator or another god, and at this time we see the coming of Abraham and the start of the Jewish nation. From the time of Abraham to the time of Christ, there were the Jewish people who (for better, for the faithful Jews, and for worse, the unfaithful Jews) are GOD’s representative throughout the Old Testament. The Jews were GOD’s chosen people and the faithful of the Jews would stand up against the unfaithfulness of not just their fellow Jews, but the unfaithfulness and down right horror of the other cultures and religions (such as when Elijah fought against the Baal worshipers on the Mt.) of the world. The Jews had the promise of the Messiah in the OT and then they had the fulfillment (at least of the First Advent) of the Messiah in the NT era…and through the Jews, and then through the faithful Gentiles, for better or worse (such as when we see Paul or Peter at work, or on the other hand when we see the failed churches mentioned in Revelation at work), go out and make disciples of all nations. Do I believe that the faithful of the Jews here and now will go to hell? Do I believe such people as Anne Frank will burn in hell? NO! I firmly believe that the Jewish people are still GOD’s covenant people even if they do not recognize Jesus Christ, and even more so, now that prophecy has been fulfilled with the return to the Jewish nation, I believe that GOD is grooming the nation to be whom GOD will have them be in the Last Days. Again, please let me point out several works of writings. The before mentioned book by David Brog, along with such works by the authors Keith Intrater and Dan Juster. While Brog is a traditionalist in Jewish religion, the other two are Messianic Jews.
If you are interested in knowing WHO I am maybe some of the series that have influenced me through the years may help you. For example, I am a huge fan of Doctor Who and I have multitudes of Dr. Who books et cetera (heck, I’ve even started buying men’s Victorian clothes), I am also a fan of John Norman’s series called Gor, along with a huge fan of Stephen King’s Dark Tower. A lot of these works, strangely enough, have helped in developing a worldview that I strive to live by in my life with all honor and respect and belief and courage.
And no, please note this well…I DO NOT have a “Rush Is Right” set of bed sheets on my bed, nor do I NOT have any “sexy” Ann Coulter wall posters in my room, nor do I wear “Bill Oreilly is the Man” underwear…shudder shudder at the mere thoughts to those.
I do of course have a James Dobson action fist action figure with possible arms and legs that you can get at any Walmart! Comes with accessories!
Looking at the evolution of Christianity, people who descibe themselves as Christian have answered that kind of question in many different ways. For that matter, Humanism and Christianity are far from being mutually exclusive. The same can be said of Secular Humanism and Christianity. It really depends upon what kind of Humanist, Secular Humanist, or Christian we’re talking about.
I’m an Atheist and a Humanist, yet I’m married to a Christian, albeit a Christian with a more liberal theology! Though our views on religious belief differ significantly, we share the same values, and therein is our connection.
My point is that things are not always as they appear. I have more in common with many Christians than I do with some of my fellow Atheists. No, I don’t believe Bible based theology. Yes, I think parts of the Bible are silly. No, I don’t agree with supernatural thinking. That said, I do think the Bible and Christianity contribute to our understanding of the human condition. Most importantly for me, the elements of this book and of Christianity that focus on making a positive difference in this world, like those in my humanistic beliefs, inspire me to do the same.
Thanks for continuing to post. I’ve enjoyed reading the repartee (poor word choice given the length of some posts :wink: ). It’s never easy being the lone voice. That said, however, I’d like to probe something follyoffaith asked you earlier but I don’t think was subsequently discussed.
Perhaps I can convince you to join me in a hypothetical?
Let’s say that I live in ancient Greece and am a devout believer in Zeus and other Greek gods. I’ve seen them work in my life and I’m convinced they are to be feared. Perhaps I’ve had a particularly bountiful harvest after asking Zeus (or insert appropriate god of harvest here) to supply for my needs. I’m a believer. Now let’s say that you, through some bad worm-hole trip find yourself in my time sans scripture. You know I’m wrong to believe in Zeus because you know that your God will send his Son in the not too distant future to save mankind. Let’s also say that neither of us have writings to back our beliefs. We only have what we know from personal experience and observation. How would you convince me that your God is the true god? What arguments would you make? Would you call for God to give me a sign? What if he didn’t oblige? What if my god made it rain?
You see, for me it isn’t that I doubt your belief in any way. As a matter of fact, I’m relatively certain that your faith has been good for you. Perhaps your belief in God has given you a meaning you’ve not had before.
So, I must believe you and the shadow you describe or I must believe the book. There’s no experiment I can set up that will be able to convince me. I could wait for a sign but how would I know that the miracle wasn’t from Zeus? I can’t believe the Bible because my partner at work tells me his book (the Koran) is actually the infallible word of God. He tells me your book is full of inconsistencies and that his is without ambiguity. There can’t be two infallible books. Heavens, there can’t be three…four…more? I think you’ve said that you don’t believe that the Bible is the verbatim word of God, rather it is the inspired work of men. Cheers for that! Unfortunately, the very book we speak of tells us that it is the infallible word of God and I know many believe this to be true. If you don’t stand on a mountain to proclaim that parts of the Bible aren’t true then aren’t you tacitly endorsing those who think otherwise?
I don’t know. These are weighty matters.
One thing I’m pretty sure of though, if there are two people who believe that each holds the infallible word of God then hands that once held books will eventually put the books down and start swinging.
Concerning Hitler. Yes he did say he was a Christian at one point from what I recall, then again, I can say that I am tall, dark and handsome just because I am tall and have dark hair . . . but that doesn’t make me the next cover man for GQ. . . .
Ha. Same here, though I’m not even particularly tall and my hair was never dark. Oh, well.
What makes one person a Christian and another person something else? I suspect we can agree that no one can know with any certainty who will be saved and who won’t be. Or are you aware of some checklist able to verify certain people passing and others failing? Surely Hitler could be placed at one end of an imaginary spectrum that guesses about God’s ultimate intentions with us, and perhaps Mother Teresa at the opposite end. But what if M.T. had mortally sinned the day before she died, without having formally confessed her sin? Remember Sam Harris’ discussion about M.T.? Sorry, as I said, my book is with a friend, so I can’t quote from it. But I remember that he pointed out a few of her actions that God might see as mortal sinning, though I suspect you would disagree. No matter, as it’s a minor point in my current questions to you. Maybe God sees M.T.‘s manipulation of innocent, uneducated people as having caused great misery, and maybe He doesn’t. (Capitalization is for clarity here. I’m not religious.)
But back to Hitler for a moment. Wouldn’t you say that if a person about to commit suicide remembers back, during a quick moment of final contemplation, to authority figures in his childhood, he might quite possibly remember that salvation arrives not by way of words but by way of faithful confession of sins?, and that such a person would likely—just in case it might be true—confess and ask forgiveness right before pulling the trigger?
Whether or not Hitler was a Christian is perhaps not important. On the other hand, if you’ll recall, my argument last night was that Christianity has always been severely anti-Semitic, so the question is at least worth examination. I will concede your point that of course not all Christians through history have been anti-Semitic. Far from it. But when you say that “for the most part Europe has always had an anti-Semitic ideology in the background, not just Germany,” I respond by saying that for the most part Europe has always had a Christian ideology in the foreground—forget about backgrounds. The two are connected, and I await your looking over the website I suggested last night. I’m not asking you to read the whole thing. Just spend a few minutes critically browsing. And, as I said, if you see something you want to dispute, please let us know.
I myself am firmly against racism, whether it is toward African Americans or toward Jews (I especially hate racism toward the Jewish people), and I would rather stand and die then lay down and compromise against racism.
Then we’re in agreement at least on this much. Thanks for your quick reply, Franklin.
Franklin, I would never attempt to disprove the existence of a god, for I cannot. And I would only ask of anyone proclaiming his existence to provide for me the minimum that I would ask of my plumber proclaiming the need to replace my bath; proof.
And short of that, I would be embarassed to proclaim either tenet. And I would not replace my bath on faith.
I think that the length & repetitiveness in your post reflects what must be an obsessive compulsive personality, in this case fixed on your faith or not. I think that it’s called rumination. I suggest that you get another hobby and see if there isn’t some medication that may help. I have heard that certain anti depressants, especially SSRI’s can be effective with obsessive compulsive problems. I’m an exercise freak myself.
Also, when you write, please try to organize your thoughts into concise thoughts phrased in paragraphs that one is willing to follow. I do.
Greetings to all of you. I hope all of you are having a great Sat. Just got home from work, work at a bookstore (hence the reason I saw Mr. Harris’ works in the first place!), and so relaxing before heading to bed. I will try to keep this short so that none of you have to examine what might as well be a doctrinal thesis on theology…I will promise to use the Cliff Notes formula for you!
Concerning Christianity and the Jews and the Jewish nation as a whole. Yes to homunculus and to . You are right. There has been a strain of racism throughout the past two thousand years. I do not know if any of you are familiar with this term but that form of “theology” is called replacement theology—the idea that the Church fully replaced Israel/the Jewish people in a covenant with GOD due to the “murder of Jesus” by the Jews. That strain of “theology” has been around since Marcion and Augustine up through now, in fact. The reason for this replacement theology is on a number of levels. I wont examine each and every one of those levels because, well, I know all of you wish me not to write an exceedingly large posting. And the fact that it is late at night and probably need to head to bed soon. Ironically enough, replacement theology in the Church (I do not mean a specific denomination, I mean the overall church as in universal Christian community) didn’t begin to fully get countered until John Darby, the same one who saw Thessalonians talking about what you probably heard of, the Rapture.
John Darby reasoned that, if the Bible is to be taken literally, and not figuratively or spiritually like many of the reformed theologians took throughout the time of the Church, then the covenant between GOD and the Jews was still in effect…put on hold, yes…within dispensation time periods…but still fully important and fully physical. As such, taking the Bible literally through examining both Testaments, John Darby and many people such as myself, see that the Jewish people have not been replaced. That, through examining Messianic Last Day prophecies in OT and in the NT, the Jewish people still have a fate in store for them…a prophetic fate that will bring about the full realization and magnitude and mystery of the covenant between GOD and the Jewish people and the Gentile believers in GOD. We see this within the Book of Revelation and the 144,000 Jewish witnesses along with the two special witnesses.
Now. Let me emphatically say, that as I take the Bible literally, and the more I take the Bible literally (doesn’t mean I understand everything, just that my perception is that I trust the Bible as literal theological history, theological letters, theological prophecies, etc.) the more I fully believe that the Jewish people should not only be loved and prayed for, but to also be championed…against racism toward the Jews, against wars toward the Jews, and so forth. Please let me point out though that not all people today who hold a replacement theology is a racist toward the Jews; however, through much of history, racists toward Jews have used the replacement theology to bring hatred down upon the Jewish people. I would again suggest the book by the Jewish author David Brog, Standing With Israel. When I do become a minister in the Methodist church I will indeed preach a strong and powerful message hoping to hit home with a lot of Gentiles such as myself, a message of love and care toward the Jewish people and Israel…doesn’t mean I agree with everything Israel does, but I will not turn my back on the Jewish people and nation.
You are right, not a lot of Christians will admit what I spoke of concerning ID and Creationism. I just happen to be one of them. And again, I do come to this forum trying to be a speaker for all Christians or to try to badger any of you into becoming Christians. I come to this forum speaking only for myself as one intelligent chap to all of you intelligent chaps. Concerning evolution I guess it all depends on what you see and define evolution as. For example, are we talking about Microevolution or are we talking about Macroevolution are we talking about local evolution (just this planet) or are we talking about cosmic evolution (being this universe from Big Bang to Big Crunch)? I have read works on all of these points of view and I have come to the conclusions that I have hopefully shown. And please understand that I come to this point of view that I have as a ID Creationist—that is GOD created the universe through the Big Bang, that He developed the entire cosm and this local cosm, that He took the elements and brought them together to form our solar system then our planet using scientific processes yes but also as a Master Artist, then finally He created Adam and Eve. I myself am one whom you may or may not know of called an Old Earth Theologian—that is GOD created the earth through geological ages, and that through these ages He shaped and developed as the Master Artist our world, and that, at one point in time, He created Adam and Eve…and that at one point in time, they fell, thus the Fall.
I would highly recommend that all of you look into the book A Biblical Case for an Old Earth by David Snoke. David Snoke, whom I’ve actually talked to through email, is a professor of physics and astronomy at the University of Pittsburgh. Very intelligent chap and a great read. To SeanK, you perceive what you wish to perceive through what you feel is evidence toward your belief. I humbly do the same. You perceive up to a point, I perceive to another point. Through your observations you see to a point, and so do I, and yes I admit that I take the next step through faith. That I see that faith having solid ground but still I am taking that next step through faith. Does that make me a fool? A liar to myself? You may think so, yes, and I will not argue with you because there is no need to do so. I am firm in my beliefs as you are with yours. As I have read works on yours, I only wish to point out possible books that have influenced me, so that you can at least “step in my shoes” to understand where I am coming from if you so desire.
I take what I have examined through my different studies toward ID, creationism, etc and I come up with a final conclusion. This is a conclusion that I don’t grab at emotionally, as if I was a mere child wanting his blanket. Using intelligence, using examinations, I come to believe what I believe. That is that there is enough evidence to say that the creation of the universe, the development of said universe all the way to the creation of this solar system, and the geological developments of this planet are not random, are not a flip of a coin, but instead conceived through the hands of an Intelligence, and that I take a very seeing leap from that consideration to the consideration that the same Intelligence is in fact Yahweh of the Bible. And while yes I have never myself seen a virgin birth, never have seen someone feed several thousand people, eh, I dont need to though I know many people do. And no I am not one of Benny Hinn’s or Falwell’s lackeys, can’t stand either of them myself. I have taken my examinations and I have drawn my conclusions not through irrational running around like a chicken without a head, but through rational decisions.
I realize that I write a lot, as eucaryote points out, and that I probably repeat what I am trying to say. I do this not because I am desperately trying to convence you to be me, I am only trying to express the a calm and assurred answer to Mr. Harris’ idea of the cliche Christians. I come here to speak for no one but myself, as I said before. This is who I am as an intelligent man who is a Christian. At least I think I am intelligent. A lot of times my brain works in a Cat’s Cradle sort of way, and it is hard for me at times to jot down all that hits me in the head…so to speak.
I hate to cut this “short” , I hope I have answered some questions and raised some interesting debatable points for the next round of discussion that, as I have, I hope too that you have enjoyed talking to me. I always enjoy “meeting” new people and talking about issues such as these intelligently and with respect and friendship. It is past one so I think I will head to bed, to both cdael and to Run4orest, I will try to answer your questions and comments tomorrow sometime, not sure when, but I will get to them.
To SeanK, I like what you share about Deism. I find it, at least myself, funny that so many of my fellow Christians think that we were founded on the same ideology that we share today as Christians with that of the Founding Fathers who were, many of which, Deists. For example Jefferson’s edited version of the Bible. Yes you could say we were founded as a nation on Christian principles but the Christian principles at that time period are different than those of today.
But to SeanK concerning the Bible and hearsay. Think of it as this, I ask of you. You give me a check for a hundred dollars. GOD “hands” me a Bible. I examine the check you gave me. I examine the Bible GOD hands to me. Is the check valid? Is the check going to go through? Or is the check going to bounce? When I go to the bank I take the check and I go with faith that the check will go through. Is the Bible valid? Is what the Bible says is true? Is the Bible going to “bounce?” I take the Bible to my mind and my heart and my soul with faith to make a decision.
The process of making sure the check goes through is very close to the process of taking the Bible and making sure it also “goes through.” I would like to point you to the books Old Testament Survey by William Lasor and company and The Making of the New Testament by Arthur G. Patzia. Just as I must have faith in that check so too must I have faith in the Bible. Just as I use evidence to see if I can trust the check so too do I use evidence to see if I can trust the Bible. And while you disagree with me, for me the check processes and is seen as valid, for me the Bible is processed and seen as valid. For you, it hasn’t, for you, you disagree with it, for you it is invalid. That is you. This is me. And this is the me that I present to all of you, if you will.
Your questions are very important and I will explore them in the next day. If I am being a bother, I do appologize. If at one point you wish me to leave, then I will do so peacefully. I’m not here to start a fight. Please understand that. As I dont have any of you or Mr. Harris face to face, I wanted to come here as myself to speak for myself. I am sure that if you were here, or Mr. Harris was here, we would go out, have a beer, and talk over drinks and chips and sausa.
And to the one who had the website please paste it again so that I can see it…I know you mentioned it but my eyes feel like they are about to roll out of my skull. Long night at work, mind you.