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December 07, 2007

Comments

Funny - this premise sounds vaguely reminiscent of a book by C.S. Lewis, The Screwtape Letters. Lewis wrote from the perspective of a demon assigned to ensure the damnation of a human being.

I guess Pullman not only got his impetus for writing from Lewis, but perhaps some literary inspiration, too. He owes a debt of gratitude that I don't expect we'll see him pay back any time soon.

"He's a complex villain who is savage, petty, boastful and jealous, and yet capable of moments of tenderness and extremes of arbitrary affection and who inspires others to do evil."

I also like the way Dawkins put it:

"The God of the Old Testament is arguably the most unpleasant character in all fiction: jealous and proud of it; a petty, unjust, unforgiving control-freak; a vindicative, bloodthirsty ethnic cleanser; a mysogynistic, homophobic, racist, infanticidal, genocidal, filicidal, pestilential, megalomaniacal, sadomasochistic, capriciously malevolent bully. [p.31]"

Just a heads up, I saw an advanced screening of a film I'm sure will make people here quite happy, a documentary made by Ben Stein defending intelligent design, the film is called Expelled. I agree with the message of the movie, that people should not be punished for their beliefs and that science should be a field of open inquiry. I do not however agree with the assumptions the film makes, that ID is a rival theory to evolution and that evolution is a "theory in crisis" without sufficient evidence.

Though I haven't read the novels, I've heard the story of the Golden Compass is very anti-religious, especially religions like the authoritarian Catholic church of the middle ages. Expelled tries to convince the viewer that science has become an authoritarian, that there is a wall between ID and evolution analogous to the wall between east and west Germany. If there is, it is the ID advocates who built it, not the scientists. This debate really astounds me. Evolution does NOT rule out a creator, science makes no comment on the supernatural, if there is a designer all science says is that it looks like he used evolution to design us.

Pullman's movie is a fictional retelling of the constant conflict between science and religion. I'm really interested to see how the fictional religious organization operates. Mostly fear? Guilt? That's something I've noticed a lot from people on this site, playing the guilt card.

"They struck him because they hated Him. He was perfectly good, merciful, loving, kind, and true. He had all the right words and gave them all in just the right way. He never sinned in His treatment of others but humbly served them at every turn. And they hated Him."

Poor Jesus. Poor all powerful God, we should feel sorry for him, boo-hoo.

Steve,

Did you read the bit where Amy instructed Christians not to continue in anger, "but with tears for those who have such a distorted view of the One who is more desirable than gold"?

I think you fall into the "those" category. She was talking about people just like you. My heart especially sank reading your last sentence. I'm still shaking my head at your attitude.

Duane

P.S. Are guilt cards recognisable to those who feel no guilt?

If you think about it, The Golden Compass is good evidence for the doctrine of original sin.

My goodness: it's fiction! Why do so many Christians take these kinds of things like they are "arguments" against Christianity? I don't know about you, but I don't have a daemon (a soul outside my body that I talk to), there is no such thing as Dust; it is a fictional story, not an "argument"!

Are authors not alowed to write about other worlds *that are not our own* that have religious figures who abuse their authority without us all of a sudden thinking that they are "arguing" against us? So he calls them "Christian" in the books; so what? He could call them Christians and make them canabals (for the sacrament) and it still isn't anti-Christian; it's fiction! It has nothing at all resembling Lewis' Screwtape Letters! And I thought Mormons were the ones who supposedly have a martyr complex!

"with tears for those who have such a distorted view of the One who is more desirable than gold"

Fair enough. I feel sorry for you guys too for your distorted view of reality.

"I'm still shaking my head at your attitude."

Seriously though, think about it. If he's all powerful he didn't have to do any of that, he could've gone fig tree on them (like going postal Jesus style) and used his magic powers to do whatever he wanted, right? I have a hard time feeling sorry for people (or Gods) who don't help themselves.

"Are guilt cards recognisable to those who feel no guilt?"

Are you accusing me of having no conscience? Have you no shame!? ^_^

Kevin, don't you think it's possible to use fiction to make an argument? I get the distinct impression that the Golden Compass DOES make an argument in spite of the fact that it's fiction. A lot of fiction does that.

"Are you accusing me of having no conscience? Have you no shame!?"

No I am just wondering if laying on the guilt trip bothers you because maybe you actually are guilty and you know it? I could at least relate to that!

"My goodness: it's fiction!"

Did you pull that from the Da Vinci Code debate?

Steve,
So " Expelled tries to convince the viewer that science has become an authoritarian, that there is a wall between ID and evolution analogous to the wall between east and west Germany. If there is, it is the ID advocates who built it, not the scientists. This debate really astounds me. Evolution does NOT rule out a creator, science makes no comment on the supernatural, if there is a designer all science says is that it looks like he used evolution to design us."

Most of the pro evolution web sites I have read (Panda's Thumb for instance) concerning ID, are very political and do nothing but make ad hominen (sp?) attacks on ID proponents. They sound very much like totalitarians not wanting to discuss any other theories and typically using evolution as a solution to all of the biological unkowns in our universe. Natural selection is NOT evolution.

Oh and Steve, you sound like the leftist movie stars who when they are criticized for saying things bring up the "aren't I allowed to have free speech?". Nobody I know thinks that people should not have free speech but it works both ways and I have the right to be critical of what anybody says even someone who writes fiction.
Yes we know that it's fiction but we also know that the author has an agenda and I'll comment anyway I want to about it.

Wonderfully stated, thank you.

You will see in the final book, how intensely this theme is beat into the reader. It is so heavy-handed that it sometimes takes you out of the story. I found it difficult to get through. And yet it is still well done and so intense that I felt like I'd been in that world. I was exhausted when I finished the final page.

It is truly sad that this man who has been given so much talent by his Creator, hates that Creator with a passion that is like nothing I have ever seen.

And it's odd, because he doesn't rant and rave the way a Dawkins or a Hitchens would do. This is a deep rooted hatred that is intense but... quiet somehow.

I don't know what happened to this man that made him this way. But it is truly a testament to the grace and mercy of that very God that he hates, that this man continues to draw breath each day.

Steve,
Stop being such a hateful little troll.

I won't talk of love or compassion to the likes of you because you don't know what love is!

In fact I laugh myself sick everytime I hear people like you talk of love and compassion stuff that you think you know.

If you did you wouldn't fun of people even though you believe they are wrong!

In fact I'm sick of people like you demanding fairness but you acted worse than any bully I've endured at my highschool.

I have more respect for the bullies than I do for you.


Kevin, Christians take these books as arguments against Christianity because Pullman has said that they are arguments against Christianity. He is not trying to hide his agenda from others. His goal was to make these books the "anti-Narnia" series, which he sees as pro-Christian propaganda. Strangely enough, however, for some reason he repeatedly attacks Lewis's books for spreading Christian themes. I guess Pullman can spread his own religion, but no one else can.

CS Lewis is still read today. I expect Pullman's work to fall by the wayside and be relegated to the used book stands.

"Natural selection is NOT evolution."

Exactly! Natural selection is a possible answer to the question of how and why evolution happens. You can disagree with that. You can say it's not random, say that God meant it that way, fine.

"But it is truly a testament to the grace and mercy of that very God that he hates, that this man continues to draw breath each day."

Seriously, people should be turning into pillars of salt and such all over this sinful world, shouldn't they?

"Strangely enough, however, for some reason he repeatedly attacks Lewis's books for spreading Christian themes. I guess Pullman can spread his own religion, but no one else can."

And aren't Christians attacking his books on this website right now for spreading his themes? If you thought Christianity was a false religion that was damaging people's lives you would do the same thing, wouldn't you?

"And aren't Christians attacking his books on this website right now for spreading his themes? If you thought Christianity was a false religion that was damaging people's lives you would do the same thing, wouldn't you?"

Of course. My point was not that he didn't have the right to say what he wanted, but that he was being hypocritical in the way he went about saying it. He sneers about Lewis's "propaganda in the cause of the religion he believed in" but can't seem to see that his own actions are an exact mirror of that.

Also, I didn't notice anyone actually attacking Pullman for spreading his themes, only pointing out what his themes are. Has anyone said, "Pullman must be stopped from ever writing another word!"? But I think it's important for parents to actually know what they're taking their kids to see or buying their kids to read, so they can make an informed decision--particularly when the trailers are designed to attract fans of series like Narnia.

Steve, you have been given thoughtful replies to your various questions many times. You have been challenged on your own replies, and asked to reply. Finally, you have also been given the gospel repeatedly.

Your continued ignoring of the challenges posed to you (as well as your continued condescending attitude) have shown me that you have no interest in sincere dialogue or finding answers to questions.

Then why are you here? It seems it is just to spew your disgust of both Jesus Christ and His followers. That much is clear.

If you were honestly seeking answers and information, that's one thing. Your actions have demonstrated to me time and again that you have no interest in doing that. You have made up your mind to reject Jesus Christ and no amount of information given to you seems to make a bit of difference. In fact, you don't even consider it - you dismiss it outright without even thinking and talking it through.

I'm sorry, but I will not participate in that any longer.

Steve,

>>I have a hard time feeling sorry for people (or Gods) who don't help themselves.

You have missed the point of Amy's words which you criticized here, which was NOT that we should feel *pity* for Christ, but rather shame and remorse at humanity's treatment of him. It really wasn't at all about why Jesus voluntarily suffered (do you have any idea what the answer to that would be from a Christian perspective?), but rather focused on what the response of the human race was - and in many ways, continues to be - toward the man.

>>If you were honestly seeking answers and information, that's one thing. Your actions have demonstrated to me time and again that you have no interest in doing that. You have made up your mind to reject Jesus Christ and no amount of information given to you seems to make a bit of difference. In fact, you don't even consider it - you dismiss it outright without even thinking and talking it through.

Mo, of course Steve's here with his own agenda. He's said so on his own blog - here it is:

"I haven't made a blog post in a while because I've been posting on the Tao Bums forums and posting comments on the "Stand to Reason" blog trying to promote Taoism, or at least a better understanding of it. I have made a few attacks on Christianity itself, but I'm trying to limit those. What I've realized, that I guess I should have realized from the beginning, is that these people are married to the idea that God and the gospel can be proven logically. When you try to apply logic to metaphysical things like religion it doesn't work, it's only speculation and theories. I have a lot more respect for people who will admit that religion works by faith, not logic. I'll probably get tired of this debate eventually, but I'm having fun with it right now, I feel like I've been able to come up with pretty good responses to everything so far." -Steve, 10/9/07

Yeah it must be pretty tough trying to promote a religion you believe is illogical?

"Yeah it must be pretty tough trying to promote a religion you believe is illogical?"

I would hardly call agnosticism, philosophical taoism or science a religion. They are not authoritarian, require no belief in the supernatural, they are basically neutral when it comes to metaphysical things.

"It seems it is just to spew your disgust of both Jesus Christ and His followers. That much is clear."

I love Jesus and his followers, I just think your obsession with him, the Bible, heaven and hell, etc. is unhealthy.

"You have missed the point of Amy's words which you criticized here, which was NOT that we should feel *pity* for Christ, but rather shame and remorse at humanity's treatment of him."

Shame and remorse, or, like I said: guilt, a manipulation of your emotions to strengthen your devotion.

The author does not have an agenda. He's a self-professed agnostic, not an atheist who is "out to get" Christianity; the way you talk about him you'd think he was Hitchins!

He said that he got his inspiration from Milton's Paradise Lost and thought he'd write a thought-provoking story. He was surprised, in fact, when some in the Christian community got up in arms against it! He's not anti-Christian nor is he anti-theistic, so stop portraying him as such.

Aaron -
(Re: Steve's quote.)
Wow, thanks. I guess I was taken for a fool. I won't be making that mistake again.

It truly is sad. I think about those in other countries who rejoice in having one copy of the Bible (or one page!) to pass around among dozens of people. And yet others have limitless access to information and teaching about Jesus, yet they choose to reject Him - and without even bothering to actually examine the evidence.

"without even bothering to actually examine the evidence"

It would be nice for you if the only reason people rejected Christianity was simply because they didn't "examine the evidence," wouldn't it? But that's just not the case. Many non-religious people are non-religious BECAUSE they examined the evidence and concluded that it was false.

Wait, Steve, I thought you said there was no evidence for Christianity. How can you examine that which doesn't exist?

>>Shame and remorse, or, like I said: guilt, a manipulation of your emotions to strengthen your devotion.

Steve, my only point was that people hate God. They always have and they always will. This has more to do with those people than with any of God's supposed faults. We can see this is the case by the reaction people had to Jesus who was perfectly good. Therefore, this trilogy is nothing new and shouldn't surprise us, and there's no need to panic.

And we certainly shouldn't feel sorry for God! Rather, I'm embarrassed for those who go around slapping Him--as I would be for an arrogant little ten-year-old standing in front of a good and powerful king, pathetically stamping his feet and mocking.

Steve - What specific evidence did you examine and find false? (Especially, as Aaron pointed out, I thought your stand is that Christianity has no evidence!)

"Many non-religious people are non-religious BECAUSE they examined the evidence and concluded that it was false."

Steve,
What evidence do you have that Christianity IS false? Careful now - you've made a logical claim about metaphysics. Nasty stuff, this logic. Very hard to get rid of.

"What specific evidence did you examine and find false?"

The Bible. That is your evidence, right? I didn't get the wrong book did I?

"What evidence do you have that Christianity IS false?"

The word "evidence" is a tricky one to use around here. If you want evidence like the evidence of "micro evolution," if you have to have undeniable proof like that, then my evidence won't satisfy you. If you are willing to accept evidence like the evidence of "macro evolution," if you can accept many indicators pointing to a logical conclusion, then there is plenty of evidence. Common sense tells you that miracles don't happen, a more logical explanation of miracles is an act of deception like a magician's trick or even pure fiction out of the Bible writers' imagination. The Bible, as you most likely already know, contradicts many things in science. The Bible contradicts itself. It is the source of the divine right of kings, one of the key factors of the dark ages. I've linked this here before, godvsthebible.com, but I'm sure you can find plenty more with a little searching.

Steve said: "Common sense tells you that miracles don't happen,".

Not exactly. Common sense tells us miricles don't happen as often as we would hope.

I do know that evidence would constitute more than asserting that "The Bible contradicts itself."

Steve - I went to that site some time ago. (Sorry, can't remember the post/thread name.) I looked at several of their claims and responded to them. I went back several times and did not see a reply from you.

You keep on asserting that 'the Bible contradicts itself', and all the rest, but I have yet to see an actual example/argument.

I'll let others continue dealing with you. I've done all I can.

Steve,

godvsthebible.com author John Armstrong advocates "cherry picking" the Bible (ch. 14 at his site)for his own uses.

Both of you would be better off looking at entire books of the Bible (and the Bible as a whole) rather than plucking verses out of context.

Steve,

"Common sense tells you that miracles don't happen."

You are being duplicitous. Presupposing "miracles don't happen" is not evidence that the Bible is false.

"If you are willing to accept evidence like the evidence of "macro evolution," if you can accept many indicators pointing to a logical conclusion, then there is plenty of evidence."

Since there is plenty of evidence, what is it? What is its seemingly inevitable conclusion?

For the record, when you critically examine the Bible, or biological evidence, or use common sense and "logic" to evaluate truth claims, you are using logic to discover the realities of metaphysics. When you write, "The Bible contradicts itself," you have made a logical statement applying logical terms to metaphysical realities to reach a "logical conclusion." Right?

Or are spiritual realities so deeply married to logic that you deny what is obviously true?

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