I think you are being too hard on atheists in general burt, even though we might deserve some dismissal. Most of us would gladly welcome this ancient wisdom of which you speak so reverently. We may not be quite able to contexualize their ideas for a proper understanding, but maybe certain interpreters (like say Joseph Campbell) could help us to see the wisdom in thoughts that are clearly not to be taken literally (at least not in today’s culture or philosophy).
However, those who embrace the “ancient wisdom” (i.e., those who remain believing christians to this day) when asked by us to give us their enlightenment well they give us stock answers that fly in the face of our scientific understanding or require a leap of faith that for us defies reason. I can certianly appreciate ancient wisdom because I do embrace Taoist philosophy that is nearly 3,000 years old and I find Zen Buddhism to be brilliant and relevant . . . but in christianity there is nothing to compare with these Eastern philosophies. Maybe I’ve been exposed to too much wisdom to find the christian theology compelling or even moderately wise . . . but don’t go blaming me for this extensive exposure to other brilliant works of human ingenuity and then tell me that I’m too closed-minded or that I just don’t get it. How much of the Bhagavad Gita have you read? Have you studied Tibetan Buddhism? Have you read Chuang Tze? Confucius? Have you at least examined Bahai, Zoroastrianism, the Mayans, the Incas, the Aztecs? Have you looked at the Pyramids and wondered?
I’m just tired of being put down as if I don’t understand the “ancient wisdom” of the christian faith . . . let’s face it people, when you compare it with everything else that’s available, it just doesn’t stack up very highly.
Reading an interesting book on linguistics - The Power of Babel - which points out that languages like English are actually far more simplified than those of “primitive” peoples. It took a Cree child until about age 10 to speak that language with total fluency, it was so complicated.
CanZen—Do you consider all religions to be works of “human ingenuity”? I do. Do you think they are guided in some way by something “other”? Something outside of the human mind? That one, I’m not so sure about.
Question for Mr. JP Holding
You wrote<<<<<* A reader asked this question: I gathered from your response to Pendragon that the Jeffery Dahmer, who apparently repented before that unfortunate encounter with a mop handle, would be in the “nosebleed section” in heaven. Why would that be if Christ suffered the shame for everyone who is saved? I think the answer here relates to the concept of rewards in heaven as opposed to salvation. The rewards will be rewards of honor; obviously someone like Dahmer isn’t going to have a lot of rewards, and nor would an Adolf Hitler who repented on his deathbed. So yes, to say they will be in the “nosebleed section” of heaven would be accurate. >>>>>>>
So if there are degrees of bliss and reward in heaven; does this not mean that some of us will be better off in heaven the others? If this is so then it would necessary follow that we in heaven would be aware that some of us are better off up here then others of us (If we’re not aware why else have different rewards). Would this not lead to envy in heaven a negative emotion spoken of as “thou shalt not covet they neighbor possession?
Thus heaven is not perfect and is little better if at all then earth.
You wrote<<<<. May I ask if in fact you have done any research concerning evidences for these or ANY religious systems? Have you in fact composed an argument promoting the “theft theory” for the body of Jesus? Have you indeed gone through the Koran showing it errs? Have you shown indeed that Moses did not exist as Jews claim? What exactly have you done? As far as can be told, virtually nothing—Letter, which is supposed to be your best foot forward on this account, is a mere 84 pages, and there are works by literally hundreds of religious scholars—all far more qualified than you—that you don’t seem to have addressed. By chance, it isn’t that you are simply reaching an arrogant conclusion about your own qualifications, is it?>>>>
The issue is that Muslims use the same kind of apologetic arguments that Christians use and argue Islam is true and Christianity is not. You do not find Muslim arguments to be persuasive and Muslins do not find Christian arguments to be persuasive. To me your arguments are no better then their arguments. You fail to use the same critical thought process in you own apologetics as you use criticize Islam.
you wrote<<<<<For your information, I am not a Muslim because I have considered arguments for and against Islam and arrived at a rational decision.>>>>
You fail to use the same critical thought process in you own
apologetics as you use criticize Islam.
You wrote<<<<And finally, we get to see you at work with Biblical “exegesis”. I use the word loosely because it is apparenent from your use of the Bible that to you “exegesis” means “putting an X on a picture of Jesus”. In attempting to criticize the moral teachings of the Bible, did it not at least occur to you that they were written to a specific context? And that the modern reader is expected to be a proper disciple, to know the meanings in their contexts, and determine the application for themselves? Is this too hard for you?>>>>>
So you mean the bible is subject to personal interpretation?
You wrote<<<<The laws of the Old Testament fall into three categories. First, some laws are universal moral laws. This includes do not steal, do not kill, and others. Some of these are laws that even you agree should be obeyed today, and we will not discuss them further. >>>>>
Would you believe that Stealing and Murdering are wrong if there was no biblical injunction against them?
You wrote<<<<simply, you err in your assumption that every single bit of the legal strictures of the Bible are of the first sort: Universal morals. They are not. The Old Testament law is embodied in the book of Deuteronomy. (You cite other books, but the same laws are repeated in Deuteronomy.) The book of Deuteronomy is laid out in the form of an ancient treaty between a king and his vassals. It is in essence a contract between God and Israel. They “signed on” and agreed to enforce the penalties.>>>>>
Who decides which law is in what category, is there room for interpretation and thus disagreement? How about keeping the Sabbath?
You wrote<<<<<Modern Christians believe that we now have a new covenant or contract between Christ and the individual and the believer. The sins are paid for by Christ’s blood, and he takes on the punishment for the transgression of those who break God’s law and accept his payment. The old covenant and our enmity with it is now abolished (Ephesians 2:15). >>>>>>
Jews do not believe this. Are they wrong and are you right? Each have arguments just as compelling as the other.
You wrote<<<<. Put another way, you are looking at the terms of a contract that was declared null and void some time ago.>>>>
>>>>>> Christians have no mandate to execute persons who work on the Sabbath. (It is an open question indeed whether God requires observance of a Sabbath today, >>>>>
It’s not an open question to Jews.
<<<<<but that is beside the point of this letter and your claims.) Only those who signed on to the covenant of Deuteronomy did. Your claim that the Bible demands that we must now stome people to death is simply paranoid, misinformed nonsense.>>>>>
The fact that it was ever done and ordered by a god or even condoned is the problem.
You wrote<<<<<I realize that you quote—in ignorance—Matthew 5:18-19 (10) as some sort of evidence that Jesus would expect us today to stone people who violate the Sabbath, and so on. This simply shows that you do not know how to exegete Matthew 5:18-19 properly: You fail to differentiate between law and judicial penalty. Judicial penalties are not “commandments”.>>>>>
You are simply giving the text your own interpretation to avoid the unpleasant conclusion.
You wrote<<<<Since you seem to be very adept at not discussing specifics, allow us to enlighten you somewhat using credentialed historians of the Inquisition as sources. Oddly none of these historians seems to think that the Inquisition was enabled by “muddled and self-contradictory” Bible passages, but rather, conclude that the Inquisition was an honest attempt to implement a particular view (not against a contrary one). >>>>>
Yes a particular view they (the Inquisitors) had from their own interpretation of the Bible.
You wrote<<<<<Eventually different forms of the Inquisition grew up in different places for different reasons. But in terms of why and started, the simple answer is that the Inquisition was seen as an instrument of social survival. >>>>>
Are you justifying it as such?
You wrote<<<<The society of this time did not yet have the leisure to allow such powerful dissent and yet still be able to survive. The Inquisition’s actions would be excessive today because we have the leisure to tolerate dissent with no threat to our survival—not as yet, at any rate. As European society progressed, there indeed came to be less threat of heretics undermining corporate survival, so naturally the Inquisition process died out.>>>>
Given the same circumstances (as those present during Inquisition’s) would you condone a modern inquisition?
You wrote<<<<So, in conclusion: Blame Christianity for the Inquisition? Hardly. Blame human nature, yet again, which humanists are so proud of, and blame also a propaganda machine that was so effective that “even today it is difficult to separate fact from fiction.”>>>>
Why didn’t Christianity (the dominant religion of the day) stop or prevent the inquisition.
This is the first time I ever saw anyone try to justify the inquisition. Amazing!!!!
Very nice questions, Jeff. Unfortunately, I doubt Mr. Holding will be responding to them since he didn’t even see fit to register when leaving his original posts. BTW, welcome to the forum.
You’re probably right. Anyway thanks for the welcome and kind words.
I can certianly appreciate ancient wisdom because I do embrace Taoist philosophy that is nearly 3,000 years old and I find Zen Buddhism to be brilliant and relevant . . . but in christianity there is nothing to compare with these Eastern philosophies. Maybe I’ve been exposed to too much wisdom to find the christian theology compelling or even moderately wise . . . but don’t go blaming me for this extensive exposure to other brilliant works of human ingenuity and then tell me that I’m too closed-minded or that I just don’t get it.
Thank you for articulating what I’ve long felt but could never find the words to describe. I often feel like a fish out of water and it gives me great joy to cross paths with a kindred spirit.