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Are Atheists Cultural Christians?

Posted by truthtalklive on January 7, 2008

Bestselling author Dinesh D’Souza’s new book What’s So Great About Christianity has just been released. D’Souza is the Rishwain Fellow at the Hoover Institution.

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Are Atheists Cultural Christians
By Dinesh D’Souza
Sunday, January 6, 2008

Asked by a British member of Parliament if he is one of those atheists who wants to get rid of Christian symbols especially during the Christmas season, atheist Richard Dawkins replied that he is not. Dawkins said that he himself sings Christmas carols and that he considers himself a “cultural Christian.”

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109 Responses to “Are Atheists Cultural Christians?”

  1. Fred said

    Of course many (most?) of us are what Dawkins refers to as cultural Christians. That is to say nominal Christians; people who were born and raised into Christian families but do not participate in Christian religious activities except to occasionally attend a service or, as Dawkins does, sing Christmas carols and enjoy the holidays.

    We, and I must include myself, nominal Christians don’t really believe that the sun stood still in the sky (Joshua 10.12-14), do we? A lot of us don’t believe in miracles (Biblical or otherwise) at all, and many don’t know for sure that Jesus even existed! Now, apparently few of us even are atheists!

    I urge you to click the link above and after reading the entire article by D’Souza scroll down and read the comments by readers.

    best,
    Fred

  2. Jack said

    God and Satan are having a great battle. God has UNLIMITED powers, yes even the power to control time. Satan has limited powers of which his main one is deception. There is a line we must cross in order to get through the gates of Heaven. If you say “Well, I am a Christian I just don’t believe all of Gods word” You my friend are on the wrong side of that line. And though you may not believe it Satan is working through you attempting to place the seeds of doubt among those that are on the right side or keeping those that are almost ready to cross over to the right side.
    D’Souza is a champion and a hero in my book. His Book “Letters to a New Conservative” help me to solidify my beliefs and I cheered him as he bested an Atheist on Christmas Day.

  3. Brad said

    Fred, being born into a “Christian” family doesn’t make you anything. Christianity, and your personal relationship with Christ, isn’t determined by your lineage; it’s determined by the choice you make in your life to respond to God’s free gift.

    If you haven’t done that, then you’re not any kind of Christian.

  4. John said

    It would be great if we could get an actual Atheist to respond on this site to truly tell us all about their personal theological views, instead of all the assumptions from the opposition.A smart Atheist, that is.

  5. ADB said

    I don’t think Fred was saying that everyone born into a Christian home actually is one. There are a lot of folks who indeed are ‘cultural Christians.’ They assume they are, have some passing knowledge of the Bible, have heard of Christ, have membership in some church, but haven’t actually read a Bible in years, rarely darken the doors of a church, and never really think seriously about spiritual matters. These ‘cultural Christians’ are probably the toughest nut to crack. I’ve heard one evangelist with many years experience say that the problem with most Americans is that “they’ve had just enough exposure to religion to make them immune to the real thing.” Brad, I would differ slightly with your point about being born into a Christian family. I would only say that someone raised in a Christian family is certainly more likely to genuinely know Christ from very early on.

  6. Fred said

    So, I am not anything but an unwitting tool of Satan?

    Did I insult either of these gentlemen?

  7. Brother Malachi said

    An atheist doesn’t have a theology. It’s a meaningless question. “A” means without, “A-Theist”. No theology.

  8. Jack said

    I donno maybe you are a witting tool? For me atheist denotes someone that preaches an anti God rhetoric. Not knowing you personally I can’t know maybe you were just hurt by someone professing Christian beliefs. You did look at Dawkins in a sympathetic view, in effect becoming an ally. I can’t hate you just what you say. I’ve noticed a pattern of dismissing the rebuttals to you’re comments and attempting to redirect without acknowledging points made?

  9. Fred said

    “’ve noticed a pattern of dismissing the rebuttals to you’re comments and attempting to redirect without acknowledging points made?” (Jack)

    Nonsense.

  10. hokku said

    Needless to say, Christians were called “atheists” by the Romans because they did not honor the gods or perform the appropriate rites, and were considered harmful to the welfare of the State. The ancient Hebrews were polytheists and henotheists at different times. What is “acceptable” depends on the predominant view in a given culture.

    What is true is quite another thing. There are theists who are not Christian, and the Christians have no claim to veracity other than the Bible, which can be shown to be a human and fallible collection of documents, revised and edited over time to fit the views of writers, editors, and copying scribes.

  11. Brad said

    ADB, that would depend on your definition of “Christian”, and therefore “Christian family.”

  12. Brother M said

    Hokku said it. I believe it. That settles it.

  13. Bibliolator said

    Hokku,

    Give proof for your accusations against the Bible. The burden of proof is on all skeptics.

  14. Brother M said

    No, actually the burden is on the person making claims that his favorite mythology is divinely inspired. Unless you want to also claim that the Koran and the bhagavad-gita are also true until proven otherwise.

  15. John said

    Well,……it’s about time.
    That was very well put Hokku and Brother M, but almost nobody here is going to believe you or take you very seriously.
    You may get to enjoy some “heated debate” on this issue,or others, and learn about theology from a different perspective, but thats about it.Welcome to the Heretics Club[smile].

  16. Bibliolator said

    The Quran has been proven to be in error, even in its own verses it contradicts itself.

    No skeptic, and there have been many well “educated” ones, have provided “proof” that the Bible is fallible and man-made.

    No skeptic has been able to refute the resurrection of Jesus Christ.

    Yes, the burden of proof is on those who claim Christianity is “just another religion among many”.

    Still waiting………………

  17. hokku said

    Bibliolator wrote:
    “No skeptic, and there have been many well “educated” ones, have provided “proof” that the Bible is fallible and man-made.”

    That is simply not true. It has been done countless times in many books. And it is easy to do even here. For example, the NT Synoptics display constant evidence of plagiarism and revision. We need only look at one of many such examples to see clear evidence of plagiarism and revision:

    In Mark, when Jesus goes to “his own country,” people say:
    Mark: “Is not this the carpenter, the son of Mary…?”
    Matthew changes that to:
    Matthew: “Is not this the carpenter’s son? Is not his mother called Mary?”
    and Luke elaborates the context, but reduces the remark to:
    Luke: “Is not this Joseph’s son?”

    Plagiarism and revision are characteristics of human and fallible documents, and the Bible contains them in abundance.

    Bibliolator also wrote:
    “No skeptic has been able to refute the resurrection of Jesus Christ.”

    Considering that the NT accounts cannot even agree on when, where, and to whom Jesus appeared after his resurrection, that in itself, combined with common sense, is refutation enough. And by the way, we find the same kind of revisionism mentioned already in the resurrection narratives. Where in one place the gospel attributed to Mark says that an angel reports that Jesus “goes before you into Galilee,” in the Gospel attributed to Luke –which contains no appearances in Galilee — the phrase becomes “Remember how he told you, while he was still in Galilee…”

    This kind of manipulation of word and text is commonplace in the NT. So one might as well take as seriously the resurrection of Snow White — or rather take it with as little seriousness as one should the NT accounts.

  18. ADB said

    Brad,

    I hoped that I was clear enough, but a “cultural Christian” is not really a believer at all, but lives in a nominally Christian environment and sort of goes along with it. By Christian family, I mean a family where the parents are sincere believers who attend church regularly. Obviously, your parents faith doesn’t get you into heaven, but all in all it’s a great blessing to be raised in a Christian home because you have the opportunity to know the Lord very early.

    Best wishes.

  19. ADB said

    Hokku,

    With all due respect, with regard to your example, you’ve got to be kidding. It is widely regarded, though it’s impossible to know for sure, that among the synoptic writers that Matthew and Luke had access to Mark hence the great similarity. This of obviously not plagiarism, since that is not an ancient term. There are some differences between the gospel accounts, but that simply reflects the fact that the gospels were written by four different people reflecting four different audiences and times of writing. Four different witnesses to an accident will record versions that will be more different than what you claim to exist between the gospels. Additionally, the gospel writers were not trying to write straight objective history as we know it. They crafted their accounts for theological reasons so they record many of the same stories, but sometimes in different chronological order or with subtle differences. This in no way undermines the inspiration of the Bible, but this is what makes Biblical studies so fascinating.

  20. Brother M said

    The Quran has been proven to be in error, even in its own verses it contradicts itself.

    Where does the Koran contradict itself? I’m not saying it doesn’t. I’m just wondering what you accept as proof that the Koran is not Allah-inspired.

    No skeptic, and there have been many well “educated” ones, have provided “proof” that the Bible is fallible and man-made.

    Again, what evidence would you take as proof?

    No skeptic has been able to refute the resurrection of Jesus Christ.

    The Buddha was also said to have ascended into heaven after his death. Also the Virgin Mary and Polycarp of Smyrna. Eyewitness accounts say so. Are you able to refute these events?

    Yes, the burden of proof is on those who claim Christianity is “just another religion among many”.

    No, it’s not until you prove it. The burden of proof is still on you. Where is your proof? There is none. A few tantalizing clues and that’s it. So let it go, will ya.

  21. hokku said

    ADB wrote:
    “…Matthew and Luke had access to Mark hence the great similarity. This of obviously not plagiarism, since that is not an ancient term.”

    Tuberculosis is not an ancient term either, but it exists as an illness nonetheless. Similarly copying another’s writing and using it without authorization exists no matter what one calls it, and it is found abundantly in the NT (and one can find it in the OT as well). It is an obvious sign of human and fallible literary composition, and in the NT it is accompanied by revision and editing, all common, fallible human activities.

    You say this does not undermine infallibility, but in fact it collapses it immediately. When Mark says the women “fled from the tomb…and they said nothing to anyone, for they were afraid,” and Matthew revises that to “…they departed quickly from the tomb with fear and great joy, and ran to tell his disciples,” they are saying two directly opposed things about a a supposed event. That is not “inspiration” but simply human revisionism.

    Similarly, when Matthew says the angel tells the women “He is going before you into Galilee; there you will see him,” yet Luke, who says nothing whatsoever about post-resurrection appearances in Galilee and leaves no space for them, changes it from a prediction of a future meeting in Galilee to a remembrance of something said in the past: “Remember how he told you, while he was still in Galilee….”

    One can go on and on with such examples that demonstrate the plagiarism and copying that are self-evident throughout the gospels.

    The Bible, then, is no more “inspired” than Tolstoi’s War and Peace — and at least Tolstoi was original.

  22. hokku said

    By the way, regarding the title of the original article, “Are Atheists Cultural Christians?,” one could equally ask, “Are Christians Cultural Pagans?” After all, they go to church on the Day of the Sun, right after The Day of Saturn, and one of their major holidays is filled with Druid mistletoe, Germanic pagan evergreens, and it takes place on the Birthday of the Unconquered Sun. Their resurrection festival takes place near the Spring Equinox, when Nature is reborn out of winter’s cold, and it usually involves fertility symbols in the form of eggs and a bunny. And of course there is lots more to add to this as I write on this Day of the God Tiu.

  23. Bibliolator said

    Brother M and Hokku,

    There is a new book out by a former skeptic that documents the claims you are making and refutes these claims using not just Biblical sources but nonChristian sources as well.

    It is Lee Strobels newest book and is available at your local bookstore.

    Also, one other question: Do you visit Islamic blogs and debate them as well or is it just Christian? Curious.

  24. hokku said

    Bibliolator wrote:
    “There is a new book out by a former skeptic that documents the claims you are making and refutes these claims using not just Biblical sources but nonChristian sources as well.”

    Obviously Strobel was not a very thorough and conscientious skeptic, or he would not be making the weak arguments he presents in his books. And as I always say, the Bible itself is the best witness against its reliability, and people can go to it directly instead of seeing it through the dark glass of Strobel’s writings (or McDowell’s, or Geisler’s, etc. etc. etc.).

    That is why I deal directly with the Bible when discussing it, using examples directly from it, instead of referring people to this or that book. It is best to go right to the source of the confusion.

  25. John said

    Bibliolator, I was just wondering, are you the character “MonkeyMan”, having changed your name for a different topic like you did as “The Paulinian”? If not, you sound much like him.

    I have Lee Strobel’s books.They’re great until you actually think about his arguments and the answers that are supplied.This man is as good of an investigator as Lois Lane working alongside Clark Kent.

    Hokku, as a pagan myself I’d just like to say that I’m impressed that you know so much about these holidays, and the origin of Tuesday.Seems like almost nobody remembers these things anymore.

  26. John said

    Hokku, as a pagan I am impressed that you actually know about the history of the holidays and the origin of the word Tuesday.Seems like almost nobody[at least where I live] remembers this stuff.They certainly don’t teach about these things very much in school these days.
    Bibliolator, I was wondering if you are the character MonkeyMan, but using a different name for a different topic like you did as “The Paulinian”. If not, you sound very much like him.Just curious.

  27. Brother Malachi said

    Strobel is a joke. His “new” book is not new at all, but merely the latest freight on the gravy train that is the “Case for…” series. I won’t call him an outright liar, but I find him to be very disingenuous. In each of his books he pretends once again to be a hard-bitten skeptic who is only searching for the truth, who isn’t afraid to drill down and get the real evidence. Actually he had already converted to Christianity several years before his first book, “The Case for Christ” was written.
    His books are subtitled “a journalist’s investigation…” Now if you were an unbiased reporter looking for the truth would you ONLY interview fundamentalists and evangelicals? In his entire series of books he has interviewed exactly ZERO skeptic Biblical scholars. It’s like trying to find out about Jesus by interviewing only the Sanhedrin.
    Hokku is right. It’s about the Bible. Always the Bible. It would do some folks good to <a href= “http://skepticsannotatedbible.com/mt/contra_list.html” actually read it sometime.

  28. Jack said

    So let me get this straight…if you find a mistake in a book written by man the inspired words are also wrong?
    Hasn’t there been fraud over the years in the church of evolutions? so we’re back to parody.
    I was thinking about you guys spending time here. I’d like to believe you’re here looking for answers. But it’s more likely this is simple amusement. Speaking of amusement you’re arguments are kinda like that little chain that the attendant puts across the waiting line. Only you’re the attendant. You’re arguments keep you safely on the wrong side of a wonderful ride you see all the people smiling and cheering on the ride but there is the chain.
    Why would a wise “nonbeliever” want to convert us to their side? won’t there be more competition, more ruthlessness, less holding of doors and hope you’re having a good day. The wise atheist should be glade there are sheep among them and even encourage Christianity more, after all, who do you think gonna change you’re bed pan when you get old? Certainly not a self centered hedonist.

  29. Fred said

    Jack, for my part I come here to present a non-fundamentalist point of view. In my opinion, fundamentalism is one of the true dangers in the world.

    I find some of the Truth Talk Live shows amusing, and some of the threads here, too. Don’t you? Truth Talk Live is an entertainment product, isn’t it?

    One must make a stand somewhere, so here I am.

    And an atheist is just as likely to be nice to you as a Christian is.

  30. hokku said

    Fred wrote:
    “In my opinion, fundamentalism is one of the true dangers in the world.”

    I quite agree. It is personally destructive, destructive to society, destructive to democracy, destructive to learning and to human progress. It is the mental equivalent of keeping someone “barefoot and pregnant.” But it certainly rakes in a lot of money and is an ongoing “cash cow” for the “ministry.”

  31. Mike Sears said

    Look up the meaning of “fundamentalism”. Do you not mean “extremism” or “extreme legalisim”? There is a big difference.

  32. hokku said

    Mike Sears wrote:
    Mike Sears said 56 minutes ago:
    “Look up the meaning of ‘fundamentalism’. Do you not mean ‘extremism’ or ‘extreme legalisim’? There is a big difference.”

    No, I mean fundamentalism, a term which grew out of the early 20th-century Protestant reaction to “modernism,” and which has expanded in meaning to include any rigidly dogmatic and doctrinal religious system that looks to its supposedly infallible doctrines to provide a guide to all things and behaviors in life.

  33. Bibliolator said

    Well why won’t the pagans/atheists/wiccans, etc. leave us fundamentalist wacko’s alone to worship our God in American freedom?

    Don’t bite the hand that has fed you for over 300 yrs – that hand being the hand of Christians who founded this nation on Biblical truth – no matter what the history revisionists have to say. Be thankful you are not in “fundamentalist” Saudi Arabia where you would be forbidden to enter Mecca for not being Muslim. Or even worse, you could be in the jungles of South America among the heathen/pagan tribes that sacrifice you to their gods.

    But wait, that is where Christian missionaries have gone and go to preach the gospel of peace. Christian missionaries are going into all the world to preach the same message that has brought so much blessing to our great nation U.S.A.

    Again, don’t bite the hand that has fed you all these years.

  34. hokku said

    Bibliolator wrote:
    “Well why won’t the pagans/atheists/wiccans, etc. leave us fundamentalist wacko’s alone to worship our God in American freedom?”

    They do leave you alone to worship as you will. The problem is that fundamentalists don’t leave THEM alone, but attempt to intrude their religious beliefs into law, government, and education.

    Bibliolator further wrote:
    “Don’t bite the hand that has fed you for over 300 yrs – that hand being the hand of Christians who founded this nation on Biblical truth – no matter what the history revisionists have to say.”

    You mean, for example, the Puritans of Massachusetts Bay Colony, who had their own little theocracy and punished, imprisoned, and even killed those who disagreed? You certainly don’t mean the major founders of the Republic, who were for the most part Deists, or one notable among them, Thomas Jefferson, who was very much aware of the dangers of mixing Church and State and worked diligently to forestall it.

    The fact is that religion had brought Europe little but war and misery, and that is why we have no State Church enshrined in the Constitution. The founding documents refer to “Nature’s God,” a Deist term, not a “Christian” one.

  35. Bibliolator said

    Ok Hokku, you are proving my point with the revisionism. Go to Washingon D.C. and see all the Biblical passages and Christian influence in the writings. Read any American history book that was printed before liberalism came on the scene.

    Bottom line is that if it weren’t for those theocratic Puritans and other Christian forefathers, you would NOT have the freedoms you so enjoy today in America.

    Not even England had such a foundation as the U.S.A. – this is well researched and documented, but you won’t believe because it is documented by those fundamentalist extremists out to convert everyone to their narrow-minded way of life.

    Would you like to discuss Hitler, Stalin, Castro and other dictators who have tried in earnest to destroy Christianity and what type governments these dictators established? I sure wouldn’t want to live under a godless leadership. Again, don’t bite the hand that feeds you.

    Would you like to discuss the American public school system and its agenda to indoctrinate our youth into a homosexual atheistic “democracy”? How about the Chinese governments harsh treatment of all religions not sanctioned by the communist government? We all know that communism is always in harmony with atheism. Yet, I hear no mention of how many billions of people have been slaughtered for the cause of communism/atheism.

    Religion = bad? Atheism = bad!
    Unless you want to revise that part of history as well. Go ahead. The Iranian president does concerning the Holocaust.

  36. Mike Sears said

    “The problem is that fundamentalists don’t leave THEM alone, but attempt to intrude their religious beliefs into law, government, and education.”

    What about those fundamentalist liberals who force their beliefs into law allowing the of killing babies for convenience of people who are too stupid and immoral to restrain themselves?

    What about those liberal fundamentalists who force their beliefs into the school systems PROMOTING homosexual behavior as completely natural?

    What about those fundamentalist liberals who fight for the rights of the pornography industry to market to our children all in the name of free speech.

  37. John said

    I know many Native Americans that would strongly disagree with your last statements, Bibliolator. And Wiccan is spelled with an uppercase W. I don’t want you to think that you’re being attacked in any way, but your opposition here has brought up some good points that I’d enjoy seeing addressed in full detail.I cannot speak for the others here, but my primary motivation for coming to places like this website is to learn from and study the minds of those I disagree with.Did you not expect to encounter one of my kind on a site such as this?I even enter church services from time to time, in my studies.I may have once sat beside you in the pews for all you know.Have YOU ever tried to learn about those that are different from yourself with such tactics? Or do you just read books and listen to people that you already agree with?
    If so, then you now have a good opportunity to get inside our minds and open your eyes to some new perspectives on theology, and other things[who knows where this adventure might lead?].

    I want to know, ARE there any Atheists on this site?If so, then I would like to ask you some personal theological questions, if I may.

  38. Chris C. said

    Greetings. As I recovering Christian, I am familiar with TTL and this blog. I say ‘recovering’ because I am now an atheist. Anyways, I swing by occasionally just to be engaged by the debate. I had to post on this thread though.

    Mike Sears, I just wanted to respond to a couple things you stated. First of all, I am not going to say I am the biggest pro-choice advocate (as a man, I dont know if I could ever fully understand the issue), however no ‘fundamentalist liberals’ force people to have abortions. We simply believe it is an option a women should have as the child is a part of her body. Im not meaning to start the abortion debate here, just wanting to make sure thats clear.

    Second, I didn’t go to public school in High School, but I can comment on my experience from a large public college in regards to the infamous ‘homosexual agenda’. I have never felt that homoseual behavior has been promoted as better than heterosexual behavior. It is on the same level, as it should be. We learned (most of us) decades ago that relegating people to second-class citezenship because of the color of their skin or their genitalia was wrong. We are finally realizing this about homosexuality. Observe nature: homosexual behavior is prevalent; it is natural. It has been observed in thousands of species from chimps to dogs. I’f you’re married (it’s not my business, of course), I defy you to tell me that two men getting married would somehow devalue your marriage. I’m sure you would still love your wife equally. So why deny other humans the same privalage you enjoy?

    And yes, I somewhat agree on pornography. It is far too accessible for children and adults for that matter. That said, they have a right to market their product until free-market or governmental controls say otherwise.

    So, yes I’m an atheist. Probably about as much a naturalist/humanist as you may meet. So sure, I’ll answer any questions the best I can if you have any. Otherwise, good day.

  39. hokku said

    Bibliolator wrote:
    “Ok Hokku, you are proving my point with the revisionism. Go to Washingon D.C. and see all the Biblical passages and Christian influence in the writings. Read any American history book that was printed before liberalism came on the scene.”

    It is not revisionism, but simply fact. Go to your library, get a book on the Puritans in America; then get a book on the influence of Deism and the Enlightenment on the major founding figures of the Republic. You cannot expect to get the facts only by reading fundamentalist books, which exist only to promote fundamentalism, not truth.

  40. Bibliolator said

    Hokku,

    So, what you are saying is that up until the mid 1900’s all the history books in the libraries and schools were filled with lies and error? Then all of a sudden those who are not fundamentalist Christians figured out the truth and changed the books and removed the “error and lies”?

    Where the puritans perfect? Is any human being or group perfect? No.

    But you cannot change documented facts about history simply because you hate Christianity.

    I can go to the library and get books that say all types of things, and it even be said to be nonfiction, yet that doesn’t necessarily make it true.

    There is an agenda in America and it is not Christians that are pushing it. Our public schools are not Christian at all. Our media is not Christian at all. Our government leadership, for the most part, is not Christian at all. We, as Christians, are simply stating the error that exists in the revised history that is being pushed down our throats.

    Atheism leads to dictatorship or anarchy. It is Christian morality and belief that is restraining totalitarianism in America. That is why the 2008 election is so very important. American freedom, founded on Christian principles, is at stake.

  41. hokku said

    Bibliolator wrote:
    “So, what you are saying is that up until the mid 1900’s all the history books in the libraries and schools were filled with lies and error?”

    How did you come up with that notion? It does not resemble anything I have said. Like books today, some in that period attempted historical accuracy, and some were more interested in preserving fictions of one kind or another. Just as today, it depends on the writer and the book, as well as on the resources available to the writer and his or her concern (or lack thereof) for accuracy.

    Bibliolator also wrote:
    “There is an agenda in America and it is not Christians that are pushing it. Our public schools are not Christian at all. Our media is not Christian at all. Our government leadership, for the most part, is not Christian at all.”

    All one has to do is read Christian publications and listen to Christian broadcasts to see that fundamentalists are pushing a very serious agenda, which is to get their religion into government, law, education, and social life.

    Our public schools should not be Christian; they should be educational systems, not promoters of religious propaganda of any kind.

    It is astonishing how much press Christian propagandists get in the media, however; the most lunatic beliefs are given huge and consistent coverage, from Billy Graham to Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson and their ilk.

    Bibliolator further wrote:
    “It is Christian morality and belief that is restraining totalitarianism in America.

    Actually it is Christian fundamentalism that would impose totalitarianism on America, and we see abundant evidence from the past history of Christianity to show how it destroys freedom of conscience, of the press, and democratic principles in general.

    Remember that when the Puritans came to this country for “religious freedom,” it was only freedom for themselves that interested them. When others showed up who disagreed with them, they were punished, exiled, or murdered.

    It is the Enlightenment that brought us the government we have, and we can see that Christianity is not and never was enshrined as a “national religion,” something for which we can all be grateful, in spite of past and present-day fundamentalist attempts to undermine this freedom.

  42. Bibliolator said

    Hokku,

    It is obvious we are reading two very different history books and seeing things through very different glasses. Dan Brown’s book is promoted as nonfiction and many believe it to be, yet does it make it true? Yes, I know there are many who wish it were. However, is it historically accurate and supported by facts? Of course not.

    Do you know who proposed the 1st public school system and why?

    Do you know what religion is being promoted in the public school system today?

    Also, can you explain how Christianity destroys “freedom of conscience”?

    I, as a Christian, do not want Christianity as the “national religion”. One must understand the core of Christian belief in order to understand why we do not want Christianity forced on anyone. Yet, we will openly speak about Jesus Christ and what He has done in our lives. That is the freedom we have in this nation. Just as you have the freedom to renounce Christ.

    That being said, no atheist, secularist, humanist has the right to deny our 1st ammendment right to speak openly about the things that concern us. Whether that be our understanding of government, laws, education, etc.

  43. John said

    Hey Bibliolator, what are your thoughts on the European “Dark Ages”, when the Catholic Church in the height of it’s power took over everything, in regards to dictatorship and anarchy?People like me think that it could happen again, which is why we pay extra attention whenever anyone talks about trying to rule America with a return to “Christian principles”. And what do you think about my comment about the Native Americans disagreeing with you?I implied that this was a Pagan Nation before it was a Christian one, and they and others like them around the world[being bothered by those missionaries] had/have more to lose than gain from having their lands and culture turned Christian, to help you understand.And most of the people that I’ve met that are trying to change real history are incidentally, devout Christians[young earth creationists].Your thoughts?
    Chris C., thank you.
    I don’t really have any more time right now, but I’d love to ask you about your concept of death and the spirit world at a later time, if I may.
    Blessed Be, everyone.

  44. hokku said

    Bibliolator wrote:
    “One must understand the core of Christian belief in order to understand why we do not want Christianity forced on anyone.”

    That is a sudden change from what you have said up to this point, which has been to urge Christian predominance in government, education, and society, which is why, backed by the realities of history from the days of Constantine to the present, I cannot take it seriously.

  45. F. L. A. said

    INDEED!

  46. Jack said

    So to recap the history of man according to evolutionary,nonfundamentalist.
    First there was life with no recognition of a superior being.
    Then one species rose above the rest, and developed a somewhat civil society, acknowledging a God.
    Then man decided there was no God, evolving to devolving? Wow what an argument for the lack of evolution, you end up in the same place…
    Oh yeah, I forgot the part they don’t talk about except after looking around the room at Star bucks. Man developed close to the equator where food was plentiful and shelter wasn’t an issue. As they migrated into the colder regions, ingenuity became a trait needed more so IQ. increased. Hence the lighter the skin the higher the IQ. Shame on you When I see one of those Darwin bumper stickers I think “code symbol for racist”.

  47. hokku said

    Jack wrote:
    “When I see one of those Darwin bumper stickers I think “code symbol for racist”.”

    That is your misconception, because what evolution really demonstrates is that humans are all extremely closely related no matter where they live or what the color of their eyes or skin, which are simply local adaptations to environmental conditions over long periods of time; and by doing so, it effectively destroys the false notion of “race.”

    It is worth calling to mind that Huckabee’s church of preference, the Southern Baptists, were born out of a split over slavery; baptists of the South separated from those of the north, supporting slavery from the Bible in their sermons and writings, and formed the Southern Baptist denomination.

    You will also recall that the Bible NEVER condemns the institution of slavery, and has in fact contributed to a great extent to slavery and racism historically. To be fair, there were some Christians (notably the Quakers and others) who opposed slavery in America, which simply illustrates the Chinese proverb that when a cow drinks water it turns to milk, but when a snake drinks it, it turns to poison.

  48. Chris C. said

    Jack wrote:

    “So to recap the history of man according to evolutionary,nonfundamentalist…”

    Here, allow me. First, life arose with no recognition of a superior being. In fact 99.9 percent of all life on earth isn’t even self-aware, much less capable of conceiving of a higher power.

    Then, as one species evolved (perhaps two or three as it is thought Neanderthals and other Homo species might have had religion), hominids created gods in their image. This was done to answer questions and solve mysteries which could otherwise not be understood. Additionally, gods and religions perhaps helped people cope with death.

    Finally, as we as a species evolved culturally and intellectually, some of us realized the fallacy of man-made religion on the basis that there is no empircal evidence for gods.

    At least, I think thats a much more fair representation of my ‘evolutionary, nonfundamentalist’ views. Oh, and I have a darwin fish on my car. And I swear to g — well, I promise, I’m not a racist.

  49. F. L. A. said

    IF THERE IS NO EVIDENCE FOR THE DIVINE,THEN WHAT ARE YOUR OPINIONS ON MAGICKAL POWERS AND SPIRITUAL ENTITIES, LIKE DEMONS? THE ORIGINS OF?

  50. Chris C. said

    There is no such thing as magic, ghosts, demons, spirits, etc. The human mind is hard wired to perceive life, humanity, and personality in inanimate objects and things that are otherwise lifeless. I would give a detailed explanation of the evolutionary origins of this phenomonon, however it would likely be boring and off topic.

    On a side note, I highly recommend The Demon Haunted World by Carl Sagan for anyone interested in the subject. He discusses such phenomena as hauntings, ghosts, UFOs, etc. I’m not trying to say, “go read a book, idiot!” Only recommending a source for anyone who might be interested in the subject.

  51. John said

    Thank you, Chris, although if you were correct, then I would not exist.
    And yet, here I am.Along with a few other “Things” that shouldn’t exist with me.What would the world be without magick and mircles?Not a world for me!
    I will check out the info and return at another time.
    Again, thank you.

    Why won’t you answer my questions, Bibliolator? Surely they are not too hard for you.Well?????

  52. Bondservant said

    Hokku post#42,

    Could you please give us the full title of Darwin’s book “Origin of the species”?

    It was not young-earth creationist Christians who put African pigmy’s on display at a zoo as a primitive missing link in the evolutionary tree of homo sapien.

    It is only young-earth creationist Christians who can truly give an answer to racism – http://www.OneHumanRace.com

  53. Bondservant said

    sorry, shoulda been #47, not #42 🙂

  54. Bibliolator said

    “Hey Bibliolator, what are your thoughts on the European “Dark Ages”, when the Catholic Church in the height of it’s power took over everything, in regards to dictatorship and anarchy?People like me think that it could happen again, which is why we pay extra attention whenever anyone talks about trying to rule America with a return to “Christian principles”. And what do you think about my comment about the Native Americans disagreeing with you?I implied that this was a Pagan Nation before it was a Christian one, and they and others like them around the world[being bothered by those missionaries] had/have more to lose than gain from having their lands and culture turned Christian, to help you understand.And most of the people that I’ve met that are trying to change real history are incidentally, devout Christians[young earth creationists].Your thoughts?”

    John,
    Please don’t confuse the Roman Catholic church with Biblical christianity. The two are very different. The pope is their king and the Vatican is the capital. Our King is Jesus Christ and His kingdom is heavenly. That being said, Christian principles are throughout our government and public sphere. Why should Christians be forced to be silent and every secularist and humanist have the freedom to say what they want and put forth their agenda at every turn? Our public school system is far from Christian. The media is antiChristian. Just look at what is taking place in California – and will more than likely continue to happen in other states. There is an agenda, just not Christian.

    As for native Americans – since I am of Cherokee descent and understand their beliefs before the “evil” white man ran them to Oklahoma on the trail of tears, let me say that Cherokee acknowledged a Creator being as did other native American tribes. Many died from diseases they were not immune to. Many accepted Christ as their Savior through personal choice. So, what is the point? Christians are not perfect. And not all the English who came over were Christians. Let a “natural” disaster occur, see how thankful the people are that Christians are there to help and provide necessities. Don’t expect the secular government to get there.

    Young-earth creationists trying to change the world? Absolutely we are. So is every religion or non-religion. Even Wiccans are trying to change the world – you are trying to convince us that our way is “right for us but not right for everyone”. We are ones who believe in absolute truth and authority. That is why we are so passionate about what we believe. But to you, we are just another religious group who have found our truth but its not your truth. Your arguments are self destructive for they are relative and nonauthoritative.

    bibliolator

  55. John said

    Heh,Heh,Heh,Heh! If you think so.It’s always interesting to hear young- earth creationists with their own custom made, theological versions of history and the “science” to back it up, go on about absolutes and truth.
    Do you mean to imply that those “Dark Ages” couldn’t happen again, as so long as it’s not the Catholics that are in charge?Perchance you are one of those types that don’t even consider them to be Christians? The Catholics that I have known feel the same way about Jesus as you seem to.
    You helped to make my point about the Native Americans when you commented about the Trail of Tears and the diseases.And their Pagan Creator Deity,as if it was the same as the Christian God.They had many deities, as you should know, being descended from them.
    What about the questions that I asked you in post#37?

  56. Bibliolator said

    John,

    As I understand the Scriptures, Christian Bible, and as I understand Roman Catholic teaching/theology – I would have to say that I do not consider Roman Catholicism a Christian denomination.

    As for post #37 – John I have read and do discuss issues with non-Christians all the time, on here and in “live” personal chit-chat. I was not raised Christian and had little Christian influence as I grew up. The people/music that influenced me the most as I grew up was the occult.

    I understand fully what the native American tribal teachings are. I also understand that there is only one true God and only one true path to Him. Either truth is absolute or it is relative.

    Take care John.

  57. John said

    And this isn’t MonkeyMan under yet another name? Hmmmmmm.
    And what of those who create their own absolute truths?
    What kind of people with their occult influences?
    I don’t mean to pry too personally here, I just wondered if it was anyone that I might have known of, not like if they were your family members or anything. T.T.F.N.

  58. Bibliolator/MonkeyMan said

    😉 John,

    How can a man make an absolute truth? We can only determine if it is absolute or not, we create nothing.

    What? The only absolute is that there is no absolutes?

    The people I associated with years ago are of no concern to you. Especially if you have never lived in my part of NC. All I can tell you is that the “heavy metal” music of today is like glamour rock to what I listened to back in the day. Marilon Manson doesn’t even compare to groups like: King Diamond, Deicide, Slayer, Death, Agnostic Front, etc., etc. Hardcore upfront in your face Satanic music.

    So don’t assume I have no idea what your religion is about. Don’t assume I’m some goody goody fundamentalist young earth creationist Christian fanatic who was brought up in the Christian religion box and am blinded by my “truth” so much that I can’t see the truth in the pluralistic nature religions.

    I’ve been on your side, I guess you would call that “black magic”. I have no need of it any longer, nor Wicca.

    Thanks and have a great night,
    Bibliolator/MonkeyMan

  59. F. L. A. said

    HELLO, CHRIS C.
    I WAS WONDERING IF YOU COULD TELL ME HOW YOU KNOW THAT DEMONS, SPIRITS, AND MAGICK DO NOT EXIST. IS IT BECAUSE YOU DON’T KNOW OF ANYONE WITH ANY PERSONAL EXPERIENCES WITH THESE TOPICS? OR IS IT THAT YOU HAVE NOT YET FOUND A SATISFYING AMOUNT OF EVIDENCE TO SUPPORT THEM?
    WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS ON THE POWER OF BELIEF IN REGARDS TO CHANGING REALITY, OR PERSONAL REALITY, AS WE UNDERSTAND IT? OR IN THE CREATION OF DEITIES, ACTUALLY BRINGING AN ENTITY INTO EXISTENCE?

    WHAT ABOUT POWERS OF THE MIND, LIKE TELEPATHY,SECOND SIGHT, PSYCHOKINESIS,ETC.,ETC.?

  60. John said

    Ahhh.I thought it was you[smile].I’m glad the F. L. A. dragged me back to read.
    How can a man make an absolute truth? People like you made a belief system in which the entire universe is only about 8 thousand years old. There’s a clue, eh?[grin] Shall I offer other examples?

    If you think that, as you put it,… hard-core, in your face, heavy-metal, Satanic music,along with “black magic”,… has anything to do with my theology in any way then you truly have NO IDEA of what my religion is all about.You are not good enough to be on OUR side.And boy, that’s REALLY saying something!
    I love your character MonkeyMan.You will stay like this.
    You …..will…..never…..change.
    And now, goodnight!

  61. Chris C. said

    I hate using the word ‘know’ because it indicates ultimate understanding. But at any rate, no, I have never seen any convincing evidence for demons, spirits, magic, etc. I do not personally know anyone who has ever been possesed or seen a spirit/ghost. Although I once had a friend who claimed he was certain his sister had been possesed by a demon.

    Beliefs cannot change reality but they CAN powerfully alter our perception of reality. Ever seen a shadow cast on a wall that looked exactly like a human? What about a cloud that was the same shape as a boat? Ever thought you heard someone calling your name even though you were all by yourself? The human mind is, as I said, hard wired to perceive human figures, shapes, voices, and traits in nature.

    Never seen any real-life demonstrations of ‘powers of mind’ or anything in that vein but since any of those things you mentioned would violate well established laws of physiology and physics, I have to assume it is bugus. If anyone were truly telepathic don’t you think they’d be just about the most famous person in the world? Able to send and/or retrieve information though force of mind — anyone who could do that would certainly make headlines. I leave you with David Hume’s test for establishing miracles: “That no testimony is sufficient to establish a miracle unless the testimony be of such a kind, that its falsehood would be more miraculous than the fact which it endeavours to establish.”

    Thanks for the questions though. I take it you are a believer in these powers or abilities?

  62. Bibliolator/MonkeyMan said

    John,

    I never said that Wicca and Satanism is the same. You assume too much. In essence I would consider both false religion. Yet I do make a distinction between the two. Satanism ultimately worships man, as Alister Crowly wrote in his books. Wicca ultimately worships nature.

    And I never said I was “good”. What is good and by what determination? I, in myself, am far from “good”. Will I stay the same? By your thinking, maybe. But in regards to my relationship with Jesus Christ and being conformed more into His image, no I do not want to stay the same, nor will I stay the same. In my theology, that is called progressive sanctification.

    “there is none righteous, no not one.”

  63. hokku said

    Bibliolator wrote:
    “And I never said I was “good”. What is good and by what determination? I, in myself, am far from “good”.”

    Is Jesus then “good”?
    Behold, I show you a paradox. In Mark Jesus himself says,”Why do you call me good? There is none good but one, God.”

  64. Bibliolator said

    Hokku,
    Very good observation 🙂

    Jesus also said in John 8:58 “before Abraham was, I AM”, see also Exodus 3:14. See, Jesus is that God He referred to in Mark 🙂

    The paradox is that Jesus is fully God and fully man at the same time. Not 1/2 God and 1/2 man.

  65. F. L. A. said

    YES CHRIS C., FOR….. PERSONAL REASONS.
    THANK YOU FOR THE PROMPT, WELL SPOKEN REPLY.I HOPE THAT WE ALL HEAR MORE FROM YOU ON THIS SITE IN THE FUTURE, AS WELL AS BROTHER MALACHI AND HOKKU. WE ENJOY THE EXCHANGE OF IDEAS THAT CAN ONLY COME THROUGH WITH INDIVIDUALS OF A…. CONFLICTING VIEW.

    MONKEYMAN, JOHN NEVER SAID THAT YOU WERE “GOOD” EITHER, JUST NOT “GOOD” ENOUGH.HE PROBABLY SHOULD HAVE SAID INSTEAD THAT, FOR HIS DENOMINATION,YOUR JUST HORRIBLY UNDER QUALIFIED.[?]
    WE ALREADY KNEW ABOUT SATANISM.

  66. hokku said

    Bibliolator wrote:
    “The paradox is that Jesus is fully God and fully man at the same time. Not 1/2 God and 1/2 man.”

    Interesting interposition of later theology, but if only 1/2 of Jesus was good, which half was it? The “God” half? And the “man” half wasnt’ good? Does that mean the “God” half wasn’t Jesus?

    And how do you know it was not 3/4 “God” and 1/4 “man,” or some other percentage? Where are these percentages given in the Bible, in fact where is it clearly stated that Jesus was “fully God and fully man” in the Bible, rather than in later creedal formulations of the Church?

  67. hokku said

    My apologies, Bibliolator; after a long day, I misread your message and see you did not divide Jesus half and half after all. But that still leaves us with the paradox of Jesus not being good. Following your theology, he could not have been partly good and partly bad, because he is fully god and fully man. And of course you must still tell us where the Bible actually states that. So where does one divide the good from the bad in Jesus? And just how does one do that, given his “fully” nature on both human and divine counts?

  68. Brad said

    Hokku,

    You like to argue a lot, but how about this question:

    If you were to die tonight, do you know for certain where you would go? If so, where do you believe it is, and why do you believe you’ll go there?

  69. hokku said

    Brad wrote:
    “If you were to die tonight, do you know for certain where you would go? If so, where do you believe it is, and why do you believe you’ll go there?”

    You realize of course, Brad, that in presenting such a leading question with its obvious Christian dogmatic subtext, that you are going to end up having to explain why there is no Hell in the OT and why there is no Heaven above the earth today as there was in biblical literature. Do you really want to go there?

  70. F. L. A. said

    YES HE DOES, AND HOW!

  71. Brad said

    Hokku,

    I asked a question, you are free to answer it or decline to, whatever you decide. I’m not looking to debate you – based on your replies to others, that appears fruitless, so I won’t begin.

    Just curious as to your perspectives.

  72. hokku said

    Brad wrote:
    “Just curious as to your perspectives.”

    My perspective on this is that the Bible is not a reliable guide to an afterlife.

    Hell is a concept that develops very late in the Bible, and the concept of “Heaven” also develops. Originally, “heaven” was just the sky, which was a solid dome over the earth above which was a vast reservoir of waters and the dwelling place of God. The notion that heaven is the “sky” in some sense continues in the NT. In Mark we see the “sky” torn open and the Spirit descending as a dove. And when Jesus “goes to heaven,” as Christians say, he had to ascend up into the sky.

    This is a very primitive and unscientific view, which is why if you ask some Christians today where Heaven is, they will not say it is in the sky (which of course is the biblical answer); they will say it is a spiritual, invisible place, location unknown, and that is why no astronaut has seen it (even though the Bible depicts heaven as only a short distance above the earth — a height from which humans look like grasshoppers).

    In short, if someone wants a roadmap of death and beyond, they won’t find it in the Bible.

  73. Brad said

    Hokku,

    I’ll take that as a “no” to answering the questions – and that’s fine.

    Thanks.

  74. John said

    I think that almost all theology is unscientific, at least by mortal veiws, Hokku.
    It seems to come with the territory, if you know what I mean.
    I think that when believers try to put too much science and logic into theology, that there comes a point[very quickly!] when a believer must chose to either develop an agnostic attitude about it and accept many things on faith,…. or start creating custom made pseudo-sciences to try and fill in the gaps, which does both the believers AND the theology a disservice.
    Your thoughts on this?

  75. ADB said

    There is wisdom in what you say John. We are similar in that we are both “spiritual.” We differ greatly in our beliefs, but neither of us come from an agnostic/atheistic viewpoint. I have posted before that when folks start trying to use scripture (probably this would be true for any religion’s scripture) to prove scientific points that they inadvertantly are supporting the modernist position that only what can be measured and proven scientifically is valid. This is where I differ with some fellow Christians who interpret the Bible in the same manner that one would interpret a science text, but that’s another can of worms I don’t want to see opened again:)

    A curmudgeonly pastor!

  76. Bibliolator said

    Hokku,

    Would you like to do a Bible study? What I mean is “are you a skeptical seeker, or are you someone who truly rejects the Bible and Jesus Christ”?

    I can answer your questions regarding the Scriptures, yet I’d like to know which direction you are coming at this from.

    – Bibliolator 🙂

    ADB,
    Yes that is another can of worms that has been addressed on other threads here. I would say that the Bible is not a science text book, yet where it speaks concerning science(true science) it is 100% accurate. The best thing is the Scriptures never change, even though man’s interpretations sometimes do. Unfortunately, man seems to think that science, especially evolutionary science, should interpret the Scriptures. The gap theory is a perfect example………:(

  77. Fred said

    Bibliolater, excuse me for butting in, but is not the gap theory that you mention a case of theology interpreting science, and not science interpreting scripture?

    The natural sciences exist distinctly from scripture. The “gap” theory does not.

    Best,
    Fred

  78. Bibliolator said

    Fred,

    Actually the gap theory is a twist on both – it is theology interpretting evolutionary science and evolutionary science interpretting Scripture.

    Natural science exists distinctly from Scripture because natural science leaves out the existence of a deity.

  79. hokku said

    I don’t have the time at present to keep up an ongoing dialogue here, but before I go I want to respond to Bibliolator, who wrote:

    “Would you like to do a Bible study? What I mean is “are you a skeptical seeker, or are you someone who truly rejects the Bible and Jesus Christ”?”

    To me this statement is very typical of the “black-white,” “good-bad” mentality of fundamentalism. One is either all one thing, or all another. But life simply is not like that.

    You asked “Do you reject the Bible?” To me that is a very strange question. The Bible exists. It is an anthology of many documents collected over a long period of time. I recognize it as that, just as I recognize any obviously-existed writings from the past. But I do not regard it as in any way divine or infallible or inerrant. It is a mixture of some good things, and some truly horrible things that have brought great sufferings to a great many people in history. I regard it as a very human, very fallible, and sometimes quite unwholesome collection of revised and edited documents with all that those very human characteristics imply.

    You ask whether I “reject Jesus Christ.” First of all, I do not see enough evidence to show that such a person ever unquestionably existed, and certainly I do not think if anyone did exist on which that character is based, I do not think we can tell with any degree of certainly what such a person might actually have said and believed. There is simply not enough material to go on to determine whether there really was a “Jesus,” but what one can determine is that given the difference between such gospels as John and Mark, we can see that they depict two quite different personalities with two quite different viewpoints, both of which say more about the authors of those books than they do about any supposed real person. So there is really nothing to “accept” or “reject,” there is just the information, which in itself is quite inadequate for the purposes to which fundamentalist Christians put it.

    In closing, for those of you who still find yourselves in a “theistic” mindset, I want to leave you with the words of Lin Yutang, who wrote:

    “All I know is that if God loves me only half as much as my mother does, he will not send me to Hell. That is a final fact of my inner consciousness, and for no religion could I deny its truth.”

    May you all grow into such common sense.

  80. Fred said

    Bib, (may I call you Bib?) science leaves out a deity because it doesn’t observe a deity.

    Best,
    Fred

  81. Anonymous said

    So Hokku, how do we even know that “Lin Yutang” ever existed? or trust a source that that claims to know what he said or believed? Or George Washington? Or Nero? or Ceaser? Hey maybe ALL OF LIFE is like the MATRIX?? Maybe you’re not even real? It ALL may be a hoax? Get real dude!!

    And by the way, the One and Only God, the God revealed in Scripture, simply allows the choices of those who reject Him to be ratified. You may be comforted to know that He will not, as Hank Hannegraf says, “drag them, against their will, kicking and screaming, into His presence (Heaven) for all of eternity.”

  82. Bibliolator said

    Hokku,

    Thank you for answering my questions. Since you are not interested in Bible study, I see no need in addressing your issues with the 4 gospel writers and the “differences” in their accounts of the gospel of Jesus Christ.

    Also, most skeptics that I know will at least admit that Jesus Christ did exist at one point in history. Of course they deny He was Deity, etc. Even the Discovery channel, History channel and National Geographic admit He did walk this earth at one time. Of course they espouse very unBiblical ideas about Him as well.

    I will say this in all honesty – If Jesus Christ is not who the Scriptures reveal Him to be, if He did not resurrect from the dead, if He is not the God of all creation – then Christians are worse off than all people and the only option for us is atheism because no religion compares to the relationship that I have with Jesus Christ.

    Yes, to me it is a black-n-white, a yes-or-no issue. There is no inbetween.

    Bibliolator

  83. F. L. A. said

    IT IS A DIFFICULT THING TO “DEBATE” WITH A PERSON, ABOUT ANYTHING, WHO THINKS THAT THEIR WAY IS THE ONLY WAY,EVEN IF THEY CAN’T PROVE OTHERS WRONGE, MONKEYMAN.
    THAT IS WHY WE CAN’T TAKE DUALISTIC PEOPLE LIKE YOU VERY SERIOUSLY.
    YOU NEVER DID ANSWER THE QUESTION AS TO HOW YOU CAME BY THE FIGURE OF 8,000 YEARS FOR THE AGE OF THE UNIVERSE.

  84. Brother Malachi said

    Yes, to me it is a black-n-white, a yes-or-no issue. There is no inbetween.

    It’s called a false dilemma.

    You may be comforted to know that He will not, as Hank Hannegraf says, “drag them, against their will, kicking and screaming, into His presence (Heaven) for all of eternity.

    I guess he doesn’t love us very much then. If my little boy was about to run into a house on fire I would surely drag him kicking and screaming back out.

  85. John said

    Brother Malachi, I don’t think so.
    As a Pagan, it’s not really my place to say what I think the Christian God would do, but I’m going to risk the idea that if the Christian God did such things then it would oppose the gift of “free will” that all believers are endowed with.The Gods do not want “puppets” that can be so easily controlled.They want us to CHOSE to give our worship,respect,love,obedience, and faith to them WILLINGLY. In the religion of Christianity, this is what makes the ultimate reward of Heaven such an earned gift, and the damnation of going to Hell such a slap in the face.That’s why Christians make such a big,roaring deal of trying to tell everyone about it and convert them to Christianity.They’re trying to empower people to save their own souls.

    But I may be wrong, of course.Seems this way though.

  86. Mike Sears said

    Wow John
    Very accurate and insightful. The only thing I would disagree with is “earned gift”. That is an oxymoron. If it is a gift then it is not earned and vice versa. God simply says it is a gift period. And thus Christians can not “save their own souls”, Christ does that. But we do want to share the great news for the sake of lost souls!

    G od’s
    R ighteousness
    A t
    C hrist’s
    E xpense

  87. John said

    Thank you, Mr. Sears.
    Perhaps instead of “earned” I should have said “deserved” or “self inflicted”? Oh well, I tried.

  88. Brother Malachi said

    So you would let your child die in a fire if that was his free choice? I wouldn’t.

  89. Brother Malachi said

    But then I’m not as loving as God, I guess.

  90. John said

    And if this hypothetical “child” was a grown man who was well informed of the situation, it’s dangers, consequences, and chose to foolishly do it anyway?
    I would wish him well, watch with a smile as he hurt himself[because he deserved it, damned fool.], and later help lift him up and dust him off with a great big “Well, I TOLD you so! Idiot.”
    He’d have to learn the hard way to accept the consequences of his actions.In the end we all get what we truly deserve, in accordance to our theologies.I can’t even answer your question very well, as it forces me to try and put myself in the position of Jehovah, which is impudent and impossible of me.This is silly.
    Perhaps if you try a different type of question?
    Or were you talking to someone else?If so, sorry.

  91. Brother Malachi said

    It’s a simple question: Would you let your child run into a burning building, yes or no?

  92. ADB said

    FLA,
    I would disagree with you on one point. It seems to me that people honestly realizing that they believe different things that cannot be reconciled creates an environment in which good honest discussion and debate can occur. When you assume that there aren’t absolutes, that any religions can be reconciled, what you create is a scenario in which discussion is artificially stifled. To give you an example, John and I would disagree strongly in matters of faith, though I respect him for providing perceptive insights. That’s fine, he can believe whatever he wants and it harms me not one bit. Believe what you want, and also allow others the freedom to believe what they want even if they disagree.

    A curmudgeonl pastor 🙂

  93. F. L. A. said

    AHHHH. IT’S JUST THAT “I’M RIGHT, AND EVERYONE ELSE WHO’S DIFFERENT IS WRONG” ATTITUDE, WITH THE CUSTOM MADE ABSOLUTES….
    WE WILL JUST HAVE TO HOPE FOR THE BEST AND WAIT AND SEE HOW THINGS WORK OUT.STILL INTERESTED IN AN ANSWER FOR THE 8,000 YEAR OLD UNIVERSE.

    BROTHER MALACHI, WHY WOULD THE HYPOTHETICAL CHILD BE RUNNING INTO THE HYPOTHETICAL BUILDING TO BEGIN WITH? TO SAVE A HYPOTHETICAL TOY?
    IN MY OPINION JOHN ANSWERED THE QUESTION RATHER WELL, FOR A NON-CHRISTIAN WITHOUT CHILDREN. DID YOU NOTICE THAT IN JOHN’S ANSWER THE “CHILD” DIDN’T “DIE”? HE SUFFERED FOR HIS FOOLISHNESS, AND BECAME A [HOPEFULLY] BETTER PERSON FOR IT.
    WE’RE TOO DEEP OF THINKERS TO ANSWER SUCH A LOADED QUESTION WITH A SIMPLE YES OR NO.YOU DO NOT SEEM INTERESTED IN BEING A CHRISTIAN ANYWAY, SO WHY BOTHER WITH THIS? ARE YOU BIASED TOWARDS CHRISTIAN THEOLOGY? ALL THEOLOGY? AND IF SO, THEN WHY?

  94. Brother Malachi said

    WHY WOULD THE HYPOTHETICAL CHILD BE RUNNING INTO THE HYPOTHETICAL BUILDING TO BEGIN WITH? TO SAVE A HYPOTHETICAL TOY?

    Who cares why. It’s irrelevant. Maybe he wants to see what it looks like inside a fire. Maybe he left his goldfish behind. It doesn’t matter. He is running into certain death in a building that is fully engulfed in fire. Do you save him, yes or no?

  95. ADB said

    FLA
    Yes I do believe in absolutes, quite proudly. There is right and there is wrong, though very often from our human perspectie things look sort of gray. By the way, I think the idea of a universe that is 6-8,000 years old is incorrect because scripture as I interpret it in no way demands it, and plain observation tends to suggest a much older universe.

  96. hokku said

    Bibliolator wrote:
    So Hokku, how do we even know that “Lin Yutang” ever existed? or trust a source that that claims to know what he said or believed? Or George Washington? Or Nero? or Ceaser? Hey maybe ALL OF LIFE is like the MATRIX?? Maybe you’re not even real? It ALL may be a hoax? Get real dude!!

    There is a huge difference between, for example, the evidence for Lin Yutang (who did not die all that long ago, comparatively speaking, and there are photographs and his personal writings, and the comments of people who knew him, etc. etc. etc.) and the evidence for an historical Jesus as depicted in the Bible. Virtually everything about Jesus comes from the Bible, and none of it from eyewitnesses. So all we have is what Christians said about him, and there are discrepancies even among those.

    Outside the NT there are NO reliable contemporary confirmations of the existence of Jesus. We only begin seeing them appear later, long after the time of his supposed death, and when they do appear, we do not find information that is not likely to have been borrowed from what Christians at that later date were saying, rather than being any kind of independent confirmation.

    It is just that simple.

  97. Fred said

    May I just interpose that the extraordinary claims made by NT witnesses are what are in question, really. Did Jesus exist about the early first century? Reasonable doubts are expressed by Hokku and others but most of us can reasonably believe that He did. Did He walk on water, or perform any of the other miracles that are attributed to Him by the NT witnesses? We are unable not to doubt them. They must be taken on faith.

    We can know without a reasonable doubt that George Washington did exist about the end of the eighteenth century. What we must reasonably doubt, but some may take on faith is that he did in fact skip a silver dollar across the Potomac, or chop down the famous Cherry tree.

    I guess my point is that we have reasonable expectations of human endeavor; that such endeavor does not exceed those laws of nature to which we all experience in our own lives and that a human being alive at the beginning of the first or the end of the eighteenth centuries would have their endeavors similarly constrained.

    I apologize for my wordiness. My only excuse is that I have recently been enjoying reading my Jane Austen novels. I shall endeavor to constrain myself.

    I have the honor of being

    Your Obedient Servant,etc.

    Fred

  98. I like you Hokku and the way you think… I am curious about this Lin Yutang… Looks like I’ll be sifting the internet until 4 AM…

    And to think, I could be drinking Guinness instead…

  99. hokku said

    Fred wrote:

    “What we must reasonably doubt, but some may take on faith, is that he [Washington] did in fact skip a silver dollar across the Potomac, or chop down the famous Cherry tree.”

    It has long been evident to me that “true believers” have their critical faculties near fatally dulled by the application of several unwarranted and insupportable assumptions to their readings of the Bible:

    1. The Bible is cryptic and does not necessarily mean what it says;it may say one thing and mean qute another;
    2. The Bible instructs the reader not only about the past, but about his/her own time.
    3. The Bible contains no mistakes or errors and is completely harmonious.
    4. The entire Bible is the Word of God, given by God. God is the ultimate author.

    Regarding what Fred has written, a “bible believer” MUST regard what is written about the existence and acts of Jesus as absolutely true. The person investigating Washington, however, is under no such obligation, but may freely investigate historical sources and anecdotes and judge them according to evidence and common sense.

    An observant reader, for example, will see that the gospel attributed to Mark and that attributed to John present two quite different pictures of “Jesus.” In one he is secretive about his nature and mission, wanting it to be kept quiet (Mark), and teaches in parables; in the other (John) he is quite open about it all, and makes long theological speeches completely uncharacteristic of the Jesus of Mark.

    An observant reader will also see that the gospels “Matthew” and “Luke” follow essentially the same sequence of events as Mark, and present events sometimes word for word and sometimes with variations and additions. Where Mark offers no model to follow, both Matthew and Luke diverge significantly in their stories. We see this in their discrepant birth narratives, tacked onto the Markan format, and in their discrepant post-resurrection narratives, again tacked onto the Markan format. One forms a prologue to the Markan material, the other an epilogue.

    Now the reasonable reader, seeing this, will immediately recognize that there has been copying here; that Matthew and Luke are essentially plagiarized (to use a modern term), revised and expanded versions of Mark.

    The “believer,” however, is obligated to believe something quite different, because he or she is constrained by the four mistaken assumptions already mentioned.

    Any seeming error or discrepancy is mentally glossed over, because the Bible cannot contain error or discrepancy; anything that makes no sense is glossed over because everything in the Bible must make some kind of ultimate sense, whether it is obvious to the reader or not;

    The result of this kind of thinking is that the “true believer” never really reads the Bible, but rather reads a text filtered and adjusted through his or her own preconceptions.

    It is endlessy amazing, to those who simply read the Bible and evaluate it on its own merits or lack thereof, that “Bible believers” seemingly do not even see the obvious, and that when it is pointed out to them, they will deny any fault or problem, using one or more of the four assumptions above to wipe such a suggestion from consciousness.

    It is really a kind of self-imposed mind control, a cultish element that is remarkably prevalent in conservative Christianity, an element which keeps the “believer” in a kind of perpetual childhood in which the most unbelievable things are believed as a matter of course, and the most obvious discrepancies are immediately discounted no matter what the evidence.

  100. Brother Malachi said

    Brother Hokku speaketh the truth. Heed him.

  101. F. L. A. said

    BROTHER MALACHI, IF I HAD EYEBALLS,YOU’D MAKE ME WANT TO ROLL THEM.
    REREAD POST #90 BY JOHN.
    FOR THE SCENARIO YOU INSIST ON PRESENTING,IF YOOUUURRRRRR HYPOTHETICAL CHILD IS THAT STUPID, THEN I WOULD EAT IT MYSELF BEFORE IT COULD BREED, THUS IMPROVING THE HUMAN GENE POOL.THAT’S WHAT PREDATORS ARE FOR.
    IF NOT BY THE FIRE, THEN IT WOULD FIND ANOTHER WAY TO KILL ITSELF,OR OTHERS, ANYWAY.
    NOW, DOES THIS ANSWER SATISFY YOUR CURIOSITY?

  102. Brother Malachi said

    I din’t realize it was such a hard question to answer. I’m glad I’m not your child.

  103. Amanda said

    So, Mike Sears, are you still interested in a dialogue about faith? I’d still love to do it, but our blogsite seems to have been cut and shut. If you give me your personal email, we could still have it though. I may have your info somewhere, but I’d need a go ahead if you’re still interested.

    Amanda

    This isn’t my topic, but I saw your name on it, so I surmised that I could get your attention here.

    thanks!

  104. Hokku,

    Now I’m buying some Guinness… Your command is good… I’m enjoying this conversation.

  105. F. L. A. said

    IF I WERE CAPABLE OF HAVING OFFSPRING, THEY WOULD KNOW BETTER.

  106. John said

    Brother Malachi, understand that we are a hard, brutal, people.The foolish usually die quickly and violently down here in the swamps, as it should be.That said,the question that you presented is aimed at followers of the Christian God, so maybe one of the Christians that frequent this site will be kind enough to answer this question for you, if it’s that important to you, although I really don’t understand why it matters to you.I had thought that your whole point was to just try and make this deity seem………uncaring, within this hypothetical scenario.
    If I was wrong, then what WERE your intentions?
    T.T.F.N.

  107. Brother Malachi said

    My intentions were to get a simple YES or NO. I didn’t realize that I was going to stump you. It didn’t seem like that hard a question to answer.

  108. John said

    I’m sure that Brad was thinking something similar with post #68[smile].
    I thought that we gave you answers that were better than a simple “yes” or “no”, as the answers took more into consideration.
    After all,it’s not as if you were asking about a REAL child.
    If you were, then I think you misunderstood the point of the statement that Anonymous made in post #81.
    As I said, perhaps one of the Christians here will help you out.

  109. John said

    Or maybe not.

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