« How Tim Keller Made Peace with the Wrath of God | Main | I’m Not a Christian Because It Works for Me »

April 04, 2013

Comments

@ Matt McAlister -

Again, a complete refusal to address what I have said.

I love your previous comment...

"Ridiculous ideas should be ridiculed. Childish thought should be put away when one grows into an adult."

... while here you are the one engaging in netspeak.

They've been addressed, over and over. You have no interest in considering anything anyone says. Answer one point and you bring up another, without even acknowledging your first one was addressed.

I'd bet anything that if I went into detail about free will and how that relates to the way God has made things, you'd dismiss it.

Your continued insults and ignoring of what people have offered to you demonstrate to me you have little interest in productive discussion.

Perhaps it would be best for you to set up your own blog and rage there about the god you don't believe exists, as well as all those who follow that god. I can't see what that accomplishes, but that's really all you are doing here.

As for me, I won't waste my time or yours here any longer.

We need not worry. The claim leveled by Shaughnessy and some others here is that the vast majority of human suffering has been at the hands of Christians. There is no real dialoguing with such emotional heat. A little mathematical and statistical analysis on something as simple as the number of Christians who have lived and so forth would reveal not only a mere lack of merit to such a claim but also solid mathematical proofs to the contrary. Such is the unthinking sort of heat and thoughtless rage we all dive into from time to time and it’s best not to even try to negotiate logic and truth with another while they are in the midst of such fist-shaking. Logic’s necessity and Love’s clear presence as the highest Ethic reveal the Immutable Hard Stop Who just is Love Himself and against such unending and Immutable Proofs as His we need not worry about these temporary and poorly thought out passions of our various agnostic and atheist friends.


Love is the Highest Ethic. Only, it is worse than that: Love is such immutably so and therein we find that Triune Topography of Perfection, of Ontology, of Epistemology amid that embrace of the I-You within the Singular-We there within the Triune I-You-We of Immutable Love. God is Love and by Him we find that Love is our Final Felicity there within this Immutable Ethic.


Jason Blue,

Just wanted to take a moment to thank you for your more civil tone in the back & forth. These discussions can get heated and, while we disagree, I appreciate that you didn't resort to mocking and were respectful in your tone, unlike others.

Darth Dutch

Just wanted to take a moment to thank you for your more civil tone in the back & forth. These discussions can get heated and, while we disagree, I appreciate that you didn't resort to mocking and were respectful in your tone, unlike others.

Thanks Darth. Same to you. I can't speak for any other atheist here. Perhaps my tone comes from the fact that I didn't leave Christianity because I was hurt, wounded, bitter, disappointed, or disillusioned.

I spent the last 10 years of my 30+ years in Christianity in grace based churches. Everything was about love, the finished work of Christ, etc. I was teaching. I was happily leading successful small groups. I was a leader in every church I was a part of. The church I was in was the best church I had ever been a part of, a real family to me. I didn't want to leave it. I just didn't have a choice once I came to a conclusion I could not deny.

Even though I was badly mistreated by the church after I left, I understood why. How could they associate with someone as happy and reasonable as me who had come to a different conclusion? A leader who operated in the "gifts of the spirit"? A person who had given his life and fortune to them, yet now didn't believe the same as them? It was too much for them. The cognitive dissonance was too great for them to process. They had to run away and they had to push me away. It hurt but I understood it.

But, alas I'm still a "pastor" at heart. I genuinely care for people, especially those who are headed down a hard road. My view of who is headed down the wrong road is just different than it used to be. That's why I engage Christians on occasion. I'm still the same loving, compassionate guy. I can't change that.

Jason,

Thank you for sharing your story. Part of the weakness of online communication is that it can easily get out of hand and it's easy to hide behind a wall of anonymity. I much prefer to talk face to face with people about these types of things, and do so in a context of a real relationship with the person. But I do find value in these online forums too.

So take care - I'm sure we'll continue chatting online here, just wish it were over a cup of coffee in person. ;) Have a good weekend,

Darth Dutch

Darth, if you happen to be the Dallas/Fort Worth area, let me know. I would have coffee with you anytime.

It seems to me the philosophy of our friends here cannot find Immutable Love and thus cannot and does not believe in the Love I know and taste within His continued rescue. Love's Immutable and Final Felicity empties The-Self, pours Him-Self out, and this for the Beloved Other, whom He claims is you and I and us. Within His Triune interior we find Ontology regressing to that delightful embrace amid the I and the You there within the Singular-We as in delight we find love’s shout of Other and not Self, Thine and not Mine, You and not I, Thy and not My, and therein that fierce imprisonment within the Isolated-I that is that hell called The Alone within the Pure-Self never usurps the Highest. The Self who dies is King.


The love offered by atheism’s philosophy is that which perpetuates Self. Thus the continued force of the drive to rape remains housed within our genome, according to that philosophy.


Love does not rape.


The deterministic dance they claim we dance to the music of our genome has valued rape, and continues to do so, and makes no distinction between this nor that, high nor low, tooth nor kiss, rape nor caress, so long as Self rises to the top. The Self who survives is King.


As one acquainted with others thus treated by those fingers around the neck, the loins pressed in, their words sound hollow whenever they say they believe in love. Immutable Love speaks too strongly through too many vectors through every fiber of our experience and leaves that philosophy behind for something far more coherent.


In Love’s Kingdom, it is the Self who dies who is King. Love spreads His arms wide, and pours Himself out. When we find Love Manifest among us, we find Him thus emptied.

Shaughnessy, I'm sorry you've been hurt so much--especially as it was under the guise of Christianity. Your pain is real, your scars are real and your anger and wrath are real. And BTW, I only asked about your current spiritual choice so that it might shed light on how and what you think, nothing more. I'm sad that your situation makes you distrustful of others, but I respect your choice to withhold the information.

Hi, Mo,--observe the quotation marks? I get what you mean about Christianity and salvation and rebirth and I agree...

Thank you, Carolyn, it's appreciated. I'm very respectful of my faith and that of others who practice a similar "live and let live" philosophy. I don't talk much about my faith online because to me religion is a very polarizing subject. I would prefer to maintain my engagement on a reaction level--Christians make assertions, I respond to them. I do not choose to make my own assertions because, simply put, that would put me under a burden of proof that I don't pretend to be able to provide. Without a doubt it'd turn the conversation to my own religious leanings, and that's just another derailment, a distraction from the real issue, which is the Christian making the assertion without proof. That's what drives me the craziest about this whole Christianity thing, really; despite being commanded to "love," Christians treat others like complete garbage and don't even see how toxic it is to abuse people and say it's out of love. Nobody's fooled, either, except the Christians themselves. In this blog alone, I've been told I'm countless things I'm not; my sincerity as a onetime Christian has been judged in absence of any evidence of it being so or not; assumptions have been made about why I left and how much I even know about Christianity; my good faith, honesty, and even my intelligence have been doubted--all to make Christians feel more comfortable dismissing me out of hand. It's not right. It's definitely not loving. Don't you see that?

It means a lot that at least one person is willing to acknowledge the hurt and pain and anger I have felt because of my dealings with Christians. Thank you. And by the way, I write in a very strong tone, but that doesn't mean I'm "angry" or whatever. I'm vastly annoyed by some of the Christians here right now, but I'm sure there are folks around here who are well aware of what I sound like when I'm well and truly furious. I've not lost my top here even once.

Incidentally, guys, can we please drop the other lie leveled at me? I DID NOT ONE TIME EVER CLAIM that the majority of suffering in the world has been at the hands of Christians. I don't think that, so it's weird I'm being charged as having said that. I realize I type a lot so maybe what I actually said got lost (I type super duper crazy fast so long posts are part of how I roll), but that's just idiotic. I could definitely agree that the majority of suffering on Earth has been caused by dogma of one sort of another, but not Christianity itself. The majority of suffering I've had IN MY LIFE however has been at Christian hands. That means that of all the painful, hurtful things I've ever faced, almost all of them were done by Christians to me. One was by some non-Christians, yeah. But mostly it's Christians all the way down, cheating me out of money, sabotaging my stuff, lying to me and even about me behind my back, ostracizing me for having differing opinions, manipulating me, even threatening me. For people under a charge of having to love their neighbors under threat of going to hell, that's not a good record for Christians to have at all. And, by the way, Christian hypocrisy is not even why I left.

Shaughnessy,

I don't see where your name was charged with making the statement that the majority of evil was caused by Christians. Perhaps you can point us to it.

God, Who is Love, fully agrees with your value assessment of the human condition in its tendency towards loveless acts, Christian or not.

Love is indeed the highest ethic, and immutably so.

Scblhrm, it was made by you at 1:29pm today in the quote above: "We need not worry. The claim leveled by Shaughnessy and some others here is that the vast majority of human suffering has been at the hands of Christians." Did you perhaps black out when you typed that? It's not my fault if you don't pay attention to the accusations you level.

I don't remember any other non-Christian making that claim, but I definitely did not.

Shaughnessy,

Yes, that is correct. STR is loaded with things like this from you:


“But mostly it's Christians all the way down, cheating me out of money, sabotaging my stuff, lying to me and even about me behind my back, ostracizing me for having differing opinions, manipulating me, even threatening me”


And things like I described from others. Many others. Just use the search box.


Now, what is not clear to me is what Man and Man’s terrible acts born of our (mine included) loveless interiors has to do with Immutable Love and His emptying of Himself both into and for we who are so loveless?


All the evidence in this entire thread on evidence is merely one long collection on the evidence which confirms what we all know to be the truth of the matter: Love is the ultimate Ethic, and, as such, whether it be the Agnostic or the Christian or the Hindu or that Atheist or whoever who is found moving within and out of lovelessness matters not, for their own particular isms are found, by all this fist-shaking, to be somehow indebted to that Larger Something which just will not bend regardless of which ism tries to justify its lovelessness: Immutable Love.


As one acquainted with the pain of such loveless acts, I find myself having to leave behind those particular philosophies which appeal to any mutable form of morality as some sort of mere tool which the genome has used, and blindly so, to perpetuate its own reproduction. The tendency towards violence, tooth and claw, has risen to the top of such a value system and as such is wholly incoherent to what I both know and taste to be Truth.


All the evidence in the world and all the anger in this thread towards violence speaks as a testimony against the validity of atheism’s appeal to the blind, deterministic dance to the music played by the genome and given such evidence I have had to leave atheism behind in order that I may embrace the coherency found within Love Himself who has, and continues to, rescue me.


"His love is immutable"

Prove it.

I'm just going to give you that your specific flavor of deity exists for sake of argument. Why should I believe that this invisible magician (is that NOT an accurate description?) exhibits immutable love? Why not immutable hatred? That sure would seem to explain the world as we see it better than a being that is more prone to love than hate.

Matt,

I am assuming you are speaking to me.

I agree with you. Hatred saturates too much of the world. But I really do not see how this is a problem for Love, for by His interior we come to know that "hatred" is, and its off-ness is, an actual actuality rather than merely a fantasy made up in our minds. You have not given me a reason to take your anger at actual evil seriously. In fact, I don't even think you think such a thing exists. Fantasies made up in our minds really are of no interest to me. Especially since this is all rather time consuming and you feel inclined to spell my name as: Schmdsbrlsfgbm. Again, assuming you are speaking to me.


Love rules. Biblical literalism and bigotry drools. :)

If God is love, I love God. I will devote myself to love. It beats out faith, even according to Paul. Give me more love! I love love! Let me share love with the world! Let it not be corrupted by jealous gods and scapegoats! May it be given freely!

By their fruits, you shall know them.

Bitter waters cannot come from a sweet fountain.

Out of a man's heart, his mouth speaks.

If you do all the works in the world but have not love, your acts are nothing more than noise.

Better to put a millstone around your neck and dive into the sea than to drive away one of these children.

Be as wise as a serpent, but as gentle as a dove.

Love your neighbor as yourself.

Seventy times seven.

Turn the other cheek.

Not just pretty words to Christians, but I don't see very many Christians on this site, so I guess those are verses and commands you've never seen. I see a lot of people who say they are Christian, but who still treat others like trash. I see a lot of smug, preening, self-serving, braying donkeys who just like to feel right, like they're better than everybody else because oh yay, they managed to pick what they think is the right religion out of thousands (divinely done, I'm sure, and not just some fluke of geography or birth) and stick with it despite not having a lick of good evidence for doing so, and who view any dissenter as someone who must be squished into place and put into a box immediately to invalidate them. I see a lot of twisted logic, fallacies, and demented misrepresentations of facts. I see words redefined until they're irrelevant, things relabeled to make them more palatable. I see spitefulness, snarkiness, tit for tat. I see revengelust and cruelty. And I see it from the so-called Christians here.

You guys need to make Carolyn a writer here and fire the rest--she's the only Christian here who's actually come halfway close to walking the walk. We brought you our pain, our anger, our distrust, and all of you but one gave us nothing but more pain and anger in return and yet more reason to distrust your folk. Shame on you! It made me teary-eyed when ONE CHRISTIAN HERE just acknowledged the pain we had suffered. Just acknowledged it! Just admitted that yes, it happened, just said she accepted that it had happened! THAT is at least a step toward love. THAT is compassion. THAT is understanding. And out of every single one of you, that is the one time love has peeked out of your collective butts on this entire site. There's your miracle. An angel just got its wings. But I doubt Carolyn got her compassion from Christianity, judging by the lot of the rest of you; I suspect she's just a fairly decent person at heart, and I mourn that she is wasted on such a toxic and vile group.

Shame on you, "Christians." Shame on you. Shame on you for further driving away the people you view as lost. You had the most amazing opportunity in the world here. We came right up to you and started engaging with you. We came right to YOU! It's a Christian pipe dream! You could have at least given us heathens the sure and certain knowledge that here, at least, were Christians who were at least trying to walk the walk. You wouldn't have converted us, but at least you could have been the contradiction to all that abuse we'd suffered previously. You wasted every opportunity you had in your mad headlong rush to treat us like crap to validate your delusions. The bare damned MINIMUM you're told to treat others with, you couldn't even manage!

I'm done. You've renewed my suspicion in Christians and my resolve not to fall for Christianity's fallacious reasoning and emotional appeals. You've done this. You've made me realize anew why I speak out against your religion. You did that. You've gone into that big, big pile of Christians who've treated me like trash. You're the ones who put yourselves there. Don't worry, I shan't be back. You've shown me your "love." If you don't have love, then you have *NOTHING*. And I shall not ever subscribe to or even condone a religion that can be twisted so far that it encourages jerkwads like you to treat people the way you do. If nothing else, eternity around people like I've seen on this site would be hell.

In conclusion, please (a host of foul language hurled at you inviting you to do anatomically-improbable things to) yourselves. Except Carolyn; you're all right, lady, and this wasn't aimed at you. I have no clue what religion you are, probably Christian given the site, but thanks again for at least being a compassionate human to someone who is still hurting from what True Christians did--and are doing even today--to her. How remarkable that one compassionate person could write one vaguely sympathetic post that shines out from the dark contrast of the dungheap so brightly. It says something about the darkness and stink of the dungheap, just as much as it says something about the bright shine of the post.

Shame, shame, shame.

Shaughnessy,

We shared our pain as well, openly, with you. Mourn with those who mourn. Weep with those who weep. "As one acquainted with the pain of such loveless acts, I find myself having to leave behind those particular philosophies which appeal to any mutable form of morality as some sort of mere tool which the genome has used, and blindly so, to perpetuate its own reproduction. The tendency towards violence, tooth and claw, has risen to the top of such a value system and as such is wholly incoherent to what I both know and taste to be Truth."


It seems we agree on what matters. Love is the Ultimate Ethic and immutably so.

Thank you for your kind words to us as we shared our exposure to prior pain with you.


scblhrm, it seems you are incapable of understanding anything said to you and incapable of expressing anything back that has any meaning.

YOU are the one that twisted the definition of words until they had no meaning. YOU are the one that said atheism gives the same value to love and to rape. YOU are the one that kept copying and paste your own nonsensical responses over and over instead of answering our questions. YOU were the one who refused to use plain English to witness to us, instead building up your own self esteem and showing off to your fellow Christians by using superfluous prose.

YOU were the one who had a chance to witness to us, and YOU chose repeatedly to be a jerk instead.

FL, you bring out a wonderful point.

If love is more valued than faith, how can god throw some in the deep fryer if that person exhibits "immutable LURV" but doesn't have blind faith?

Jason,

I have asked you in several ways to account for the basis of your value of love over other itches. We all know you do value love above other things. The problem is that you believe that in your heart, and you don't like being asked to defend that (what you truly value in your heart) intellectually with what you say in your mind.

The genome based equality of all itches you say you believe with your mind cannot give you what your heart knows is true. And you don't like that. Which is why you have yet to answer the question, as the two just cannot be reconciled one with the other.

You should go with your heart, Jason, because it's telling you the truth. Love is the highest ethic, even if all men say it is not.

You do realize just pumps blood, right? Stop acting like the heart "thinks". You obviously don't "TRULY" (air quotes) understand biology.

*the heart (pumps blood)

scblhrm, the incoherency only exists in your mind, not mind. There is no genome based equality. Natural selection minimizes the things that harm the future of the species and maximizing the thing the benefit the future of the species. Love is a benefit. Rape and murder do not.

I don't have anything to defend because there is no incoherency for me. Do you get that?

Jason,

I get that you think there is a magical difference between itches. But you haven't shown us how this magical difference happens other than by simple preference. As AJG said, it's all a matter of personal opinion.

How did the impulse to love come to be? Where is it? Why is it still there? How did the impulse to murder come to be? Where is it? Why is it still retained in our genome?

You have yet to show us how these are different from one another in actuality -- other than in your own particular preference.

Genetically speaking, there is no difference here that you have shown us. They have both come about via the same mechanism. And, they are both being retained by the same mechanism.

DNA neither knows nor cares. It just "does" whatever perpetuates it.

The other way of stating this Jason is how do you ground Moral Absolutes via Naturalism. But I know you know that is what I have been asking you all along.

you clearly do not understand evolution and natural selection. you should educate yourself on these subjects so that we can continue this conversation.

Perhaps you can show me how to ground moral absolutes within and via natural selection, Jason.

Every single one of us here (and outside this blog)is imperfect. We contend with sin day in and day out. When discussions on this site begin with declarations that what we cherish is nonsense and can't be supported, we all do our best to respond rationally and with some content and context to defend our position. When those discussions expand to ridicule and crude language, it is often hard to resist not replying in kind. That doesn't make it right, of course, but it happens because it's a volatile subject and we are imperfect people.

I, for one, would love to see dissenters come here and politely express their views and ask for explanations or answers that they can think about. That rarely happens. For the most part, dissenters seem to rage and accuse and get ugly, and it becomes a written shouting match. Then we start barking back, frustrated that the other party isn't listening, isn't trying to process, etc. I'm as guilty as the next guy of this. I think of this blog sort of as our "home", so to speak, where we're discussing spiritual things that impact us and the world. If someone comes to our "door" and wants to join the discussion, it's a good thing for them to realize that they are our GUESTS. And it's a good thing for us to remember that we are the HOSTS! Coming in with guns blazing doesn't get anyone anywhere.

There are some very fine minds associated with this blog (and mine is certainly not one of them). Trying to figure out what people are really asking or saying when we are questioned is often tricky and few of us have the resources to write volumes of text to communicate what we think are the appropriate answers. We don't usually have the needed time to go all the way back to elementary apologetics and "reinvent the wheel", so to speak. But when faced with loaded or complex questions, it's frequently very tough to give a terse answer that will satisfy. A quick answer about creation or grace or free will or sin is not usually very possible. Yet we get barraged with accusations that we can't answer those issues simply because we're trying to establish the 'first things first'.

While I recognize pain when I hear it, read it and see it (as most folks here DO), that still doesn't mean I'm going to be as skilled as someone needs me to be to address their issues--ESPECIALLY if they are issues cloaked in anger, rage and disillusionment. A polite "Thank you" when someone has taken the time to write an answer at great length, giving the apologetic response to the perceived issue, would go a long way in making things here go more smoothly. Maybe we've all watched way too much prime time news where the newscast crew talks over the guest, and the guest interrupts and talks over the host, and soon it's a free-for-all. It lends nothing to civility and ultimately makes everyone angry and frustrated. It IS possible to disagree without hurling insults and trying to slay the opponent.

The subject matter on this blog can be life-changing; but we never want to see people choose death over life. While our detractors see themselves as liberated from the clutches of Christianity, as Believers we know that they are deceived. Against all odds, it's our job to explain what we can the best we can, and let God take care of the rest.

I think conversations like these just go to show that people are people. No matter what religion or belief, there are kind or rude people, loving or hateful, angry or patient, etc etc.

Christians try to claim they have some kind of greater love or power, based off of their belief in Christ, or the power of Christ inside of them, but I have never seen a difference. Granted, I have known many Christians who are incredible people. My mom is one, and one of my best friends is another, and I dont even think I could count all the other Christians I know who are wonderful people. Truly. But I have met just as many wonderful people who are atheists, agnostics, pantheists, deist, pagan, muslim, jewish, whatever. And I have met many terrible, abusive, hateful, self centered people who are Christians and non. (One problem though, is that Christianity tends to bring out some mental disorders, including narcissistic personality disorder, but that is another conversation for another day). People are people. Who you are is not determined by your faith. I am no different now, than I was when I was a Christian. I am the same girl, on most fundamental levels. And I am much happier now, even though as a Christian I thought I would never leave the faith.

I get that you can take comments like this badly and get defensive. I really don't mean to be hateful with what I say. (If you could hear my tone of voice you would know I am not angry or hateful). I am just being honest. Not trying to attack anyone. It is true that I am happier now, and it is true that I could never go back, now that I have learned more about the religion. It is also true that I think Christianity can be incredibly harmful for people. It can be good for some, bad for others. I think Christianity, while in some ways was bad for my mother (it kept her in an unhealthy, unhappy marriage for way too long, because divorce is "wrong", among other things) I think overall it has been a good thing in her life. I can recognize that. It has given her peace and comfort and certainty, in a sometimes scary and confusing world. I have no desire to take that away from her.

But I can also see the pain that Christianity has caused. (And Im just talking about in the Christian's life, not even in regard to history or society. All you have to do is a quick google search to find that.) One of the realest pains in my Christian walk and one of the main things that led to my deconversion, was a complete and total lack of response from God. I spent many a night, many a church service, praying, crying, seeking so damn hard, only to get NOTHING back from God. Even though the Bible says "You will seek me and you will find me when you seek me with your whole heart." I did that. I have many friends who were witnesses to this, and witnesses to my pain and tears of longing for connection to a God which seemed to want nothing to do with me. Of course for 3 years I believed he was trying to teach me something, but that doesn't keep it from being painful. After a while my heart just could not take it anymore. One can only take so much rejection and pain. Added to that, I was seeing how Christianity was actually UNHEALTHY for me, even though all my life I believed Christianity would help me grow to be the woman God wanted me to be. It was actually hindering my growth, inhibiting me from being myself, and contributing to my depression. And I am not the only one. I see this again and again, in lives of ex christians I knew, and Christians I know. The Christians I know, are always waiting for when God is going to fulfill some promise, or give them the desires of their heart, or for when they finally feel closer to him, or the finally feel they are where they need to be. It never comes. The promises are never fulfilled. They are in a constant state of waiting. How is that a way to live?? I know a 45 (or so) year old woman who is still waiting on God to find her a husband! And this incredible lady is so pleasant and patient and kind. It makes me sad to see her wasting her life like that.

Well, didnt mean to go on that rant. Its 2 am on my side of the world and I need to get some sleep. I dont even know if what I wrote will make any sense, just wanted to get it off my chest.

I am honestly approaching this as humbly as I can right now. What is this actually communicating?

"....as Believers we know that they are deceived..."

You claim a title of "believer," yet what you claim is not "belief" but "knowledge."

Those of us who have been there do not come here seeking knowledge. If you provide a platform we will challenge your claims, because we are convinced that we have moved past those prior beliefs.

@Freeat Last: If you don't come seeking input and knowledge because you've "moved past those prior beliefs", and you come because you want to challenge our claims, then you and others of your ilk have to abide by some semblance of civility here. I'm glad you've stated your purpose and position and you can rightly expect that some here will engage you for a time to spell out what we hold to be true. But as you are committed to steadfastly maintaining your position (which we OBVIOUSLY disagree with), it should come as NO surprise to you that we steadfastly hold to our position as well! We are not persuaded by belittling remarks, insults, put-downs and generalizations which would take hours and hours to unravel and explain. We clearly do not embrace the enlightenment you believe to be so liberating! Want to dialogue? Great! Pop in and see if you can glean some information here. Want to rant and rage and rail against everything this blog is about, then be creative and establish a blog where you can do that. And I'm speaking simply as a contributor here, because that's all that I am.

@Carolyn: I thought that most of us who began commenting here a day or two ago had started out engaging thoughtfully and peacefully, if a bit trolly. It was the tone of the Christian contributors that led to some butthurt.

We have other blogs and forums that we contribute to. This just seemed like an interesting place to dialogue a bit (which is not the same as gleaning information).


"we steadfastly hold to our position as well"

My intention is not to steadfastly hold a position. If it was, I would still be a Christian.

Carolyn,

I respect your comments and your tone. I really try hard to maintain a positive tone and respectful attitude in these forums. Like anyone else, as you admitted, when we feel like we are pushed too far, none of us are perfect in that regard. My limit is someone playing obvious endless word games (like scblhrm).

I would like to turn this conversation back to the topic of the OP if possible i.e. "evidence".

Personally and very honestly, I am all about the evidence. That's why I had no choice to leave Christianity after more than 30 years of sincere dedication. I did NOT want to leave, but was left with no choice.

I have yet to see in my entire life, in any Christian's entire life I knew (including family), and any Christian I have ever met (here and elsewhere), one single piece of objective personal documentable evidence.

We can argue endlessly on an intellectual basis about the bible, etc, but in the end that accomplishes very little in my opinion.

If the Christian god is even a tiny fraction of what is written and what is believed by those here, then a tiny demonstration of that tiny fraction is more than reasonable and would be undeniable to every one.

For example...just one modern day miracle...a real one...an video taped arm growing back or a paraplegic getting up to walk while a person is being prayed for by Christians...something that could not occur without the Christian god.

It NEVER, EVER happens. There are hundreds of millions of videos on Youtube, and not one objectively demonstrating god. That is why people that rely on evidence can not believe.

If I saw evidence, I would believe in the Christian god again. Show me.

Jason

I appreciate what you've written, Jason, and I am going to reply to it from my own personal perspective. This will, no doubt, cause an uproar amongst the Believers here because, as I'm sure you know, there are those who hold to a more charismatic understanding of Scripture and those who do not. I'm not a charismatic. While I believe that God is able to do whatever He chooses, I don't believe that dramatic miracles are the normative way He reaches people today. That is not to say that they do not happen, merely that they don't appear to me to be normative. (I have a very close friend who has lupus which began manifesting itself when she was in her early 20's. She was a young newlywed at the time and the disease attacked her brain. Her doctors pumped her full of all sorts of meds for a long period of time, warning her not to get pregnant during that time as the meds would be disastrous for an unborn child. The attack was so bad they wound up putting her in the hospital for five months. Turns out she was just days pregnant when the medication began and she didn't know it. Five months later she was released and discovered her condition; she was stunned...and terrified. She delivered a perfectly healthy baby boy who grew up perfectly healthy and is getting married this summer. A miracle? Yes, I think so. Would some argue against it being so? Yes, I think so.)

My point is that God is not a genie in a bottle. We don't get to rub the bottle and demand our wish and then declare Him incapable when our wish isn't granted. There are lots of things about Christianity I don't fully understand--but not one of them make me doubt the truth of God, His amazing love for us, His triune nature, His character or His Word. I don't see present-day miracles as foundational for belief--or speaking in tongues, or some other things which charismatics hold to. I think it's unfortunate that those things cause division and arguments, but they do. The horrors of the weight of sheer evil in the world, God's timing of His involvement or lack of it, what He allows and doesn't intervene in--those are heavy issues we all have to question in our minds. But time and time again, I come back to this--why does He allow ME to continue to exist, when my own sin overwhelms me with shame? What part does MY sin play in the mess the world is in? (A BIG part.) Why doesn't He come in and save the people I think need rescuing? Because I'm not the one in charge. I'm not God. And He's not a genie in a bottle. It would be complete arrogance on my part to demand He do things MY way--to convince me of anything or make me "happy". He's given me plenty to convince me of His reality, His overarching love, His power, His mercy and His grace. It is enough. Does He fit MY limited definition of justice and mercy and grace? No...and thank goodness for that! Because I am imperfect and self-centered and only human; HE is God.

This saddens me, Carolyn:
"What part does MY sin play in the mess the world is in? (A BIG part.)"
What have you done that makes you feel that way? Is it that you believe that all sin is equal?

As far as the mess the world is in, it's getting better in many ways. We have less poverty and more freedoms from historically oppressed people. We have more health and education, more happiness.

Women have rights in most countries. The whole world is rising up in an attempt to stop rape.

But I guess we are supposed to be discussing acceptable evidence. What evidence do we have to convince us that the Bible is true? Have I missed something?

Carolyn,

I really appreciate your honest response. I am going to describe a fraction my own journey, not to try to damage your faith, but just to be honest with you as you have been with me.

Let me say that I felt very much the same as you, and I didn't view god as a genie in a bottle for the first 20 years as a believer. But, at some point, I had to say to myself "Either it's true or it's not. Either the promises in the bible are real or they aren't."

So, I really "went for it" the last ten years of my faith. My wife and I doubled down more than you can imagine blindly believing (in spite of all evidence to the contrary) that the promises of god made in the bible were true. We just knew that a real god would really show up.

We surrounded ourselves with people who believed the same things. But when it got right down to it though, none of those people ever saw a measurable promise fulfilled either, ever, in the whole lives if they were honest about it.

Then when we finally took just one tiny step back and considered the question "is there any proof outside of our minds (and culture) that any of this is true?". The shocking answer to us was no.

Then, consider the sin/guilt you describe. Why do you feel that way? Why did I feel that way? Why was I wracked with guilt for my sinful nature? It's because you and I were taught that we were sinful. It was ingrained in us. But what if it's not true? Would we feel "guilty deserving death" if no one ever told us that? Just consider that.

Then, we considered "original sin" again, and thought "wait a minute...a man and a woman six thousand years ago sinned and that damned most of his creation to everlasting torment?" The sheer ridiculousness hits you in the face when you consider it objectively. If it is true, it's absurdly unfair.

We NEVER expected to lose our faith in a million years. But all it took was one objective look and it could not stand up under the bare minimum of critical thinking.

I can tell you that we are the same people now. As atheists, we are still loving, compassionate, and generous. Our marriage went from good to fantastic. The relationships with our kids went from good to great. Removing the imaginary constructs allowed us to be genuinely real with each other.

And we no longer live under false guilt for something we never did. I could go on and on. But again, thank you for your honest and thoughtful response.

Jason

...a few more thoughts...

Assuming the bible is true...

If Jesus didn't perform miracles, then no one would have believed he was god. They would have just considered him another prophet. According to the bible, Jesus healed every one who ever asked him. He did not turn anyone down.

Yet, today, no one ever gets healed through prayer. Ever. Not genuine blind eyes opening, crippled men walking miracles. There are lots of "my back was hurting and now it's not", but nothing that demonstrates that there is a god.

Wouldn't that be so easy for him to do? Wouldn't he want to do that considering the eternal consequences for those that do not believe?

It's easy to say "God's ways are higher than mine, so I won't question", but the bible is very specific and unambiguous about healing.

"Pray for the sick and the shall recover"..."Bring your sick to the elders"..."If you have the faith of a mustard seed"...and too many more to list. If those parts of the bible are not true, than what parts are? How to you decide?

I know lots of apologists have written books about this. I've read them. It doesn't matter what intellectual loop holes and parlor tricks one applies to explain and excuse. Either it's true or it's not. It's pretty black and white. It's pretty simple. At least when one comes from an objective point of few and drops the need for confirmation bias.

Jason,

I would tell you He has healed my emotions. And my body. And my spirit. And it would be the truth. But based on how you have talked to me and about me thus far you will either call me a liar playing games with words, or, you will say I am mentally ill, or, you will say you fear for my mental health, or, it will not bridge the desire you have. And it shouldn't bridge that desire. It can't.

Only He can Jason. One on one. Go there.


@Jason Blue: If only all discussions here could be this civilized! Thank you for sharing your journey and the steps you've taken to get where you now are. It's interesting to me that you came to a place where you had to question if it was all real or not. I converted TO Christianity 35 years ago and have never once wondered if it's true! Before that conversion, I openly sought out every faith group I could think of--Mormons, Hare Krishna's, the Paramansa Yogananda of the Self-Realization Fellowship (sp), Jehovah Witnesses, and many others. I took comparative religion classes in college and investigated everything from atheism to Zoroastrianism. My very LAST resort was Christianity. I've never looked back. The life I have in Christ is, for me, a LIVING miracle. It rings true in every facet of my existence and brings me to my knees in praise. HE is Truth and His Word is Truth and I am sustained by it. Has my life been carefree and easy? NO! Would I have invented such a religion? NO! But only because I don't possess perfect justice, perfect mercy and perfect grace. He does. It is far removed from my tiny concept of those things and I'm so glad it is.

As far as original sin goes, I have only to look at children to see that we do, indeed, have a sin nature. We don't have to teach toddlers to hit, bite, and knock each other down! It's part of their nature--a nature marred by something. No matter how sweet and loving we are with them, they will, at some point, hit or bite or clobber someone. It's hard, yes, to understand how sin infected all of mankind, but I've yet to find a perfect person who hasn't sinned. I was going to write that it's equally hard to comprehend how the sacrifice of one man on the cross accomplished redemption for all of mankind--but that isn't exactly what I want to convey. I GET how that perfect God/man was the ONLY way we could be redeemed; what I don't get is how anyone could reject that gift.

As a side-note to Freeat Last, I'll just add a quick answer here to your question to me: You said you're saddened by my understanding of my culpability where sin is concerned and wonder what I could have done to make me think I've contributed to the evil in the world. I see it like this: sin is sin--it is what separates us from God because He is completely holy. Yes, I think some sins are more horrific, but the net result of sins (minor or major) is the same. And sin is infectious by nature so my sin has contributed to the misery in the world and I am responsible for it. I accept the reality of original sin (see above) and can readily recognize my own sinful nature. And that's why I am so grateful for the redemptive work that was done for me by Christ. Simple, but absolutely profound. BTW, thanks for your response, Freeat Last. I appreciated your controlled and earnest reply. Again, I'm really encouraged by the civil dialogue! You've brought up a big topic, the veracity of the Bible, and there are others here who can assuredly address that better than I can. If I can squeeze in some time today, I will do my best to respond to it, but I would be answering simply from a layman's point of view, not as someone with seminary or theological training.

scblhrm,

I admit that I went over the line questioning your mental state. I apologize for that. I still don't understand most of what you say based on your style of prose, and I disagree with your concept of love as exclusive to your god.

I am a very calm reasonable person. I admit that I became extremely frustrated with you when you refused to answer my questions and kept copying and pasting prose that you knew I didn't understand. I interpreted that as an insult, and I probably should not have.

Again, I apologize. Let's start over :)

I did ask you question in the other thread if you are interested in continuing the discussion over there.

Carolyn,

Thanks for your reply and a little of your story.

Little kids being selfish isn't evidence of sin to me. It's evidence that they haven't learned the cultural component of morality, i.e. they haven't been trained yet.

But I respect that you happy in your faith :)

Jason

I guess all I can respond to that is that I HAVE been trained, and I still sin. I know the cultural component of morality and yet I still struggle with sin. How about you, Jason? Do you know a single person on earth, who learned the difference between right and wrong, and has never, ever sinned after that--especially using God's definition of sin? (For example, remember the passage that said that just looking at a woman with lust in your eyes constitutes adultery as far as God is concerned?) I look forward to your answer and hope you'll return here.

Carolyn,

Yes, according to the bible, we have all sinned. if kids are raised with love and kindness, most turn out similar regardless of faith.

Those that are unloved and abused usually pass it on regardless of faith.

Neither you or I go around raping, stealing, or killing, and most adults dont regardless of faith.

Interestingly enough, I don't struggle with "sins" virtually at all since becoming an atheist for two reasons.

1. Focusing on something usually increases that behavior and I dint di that anymore.

2. I don't define normal harmless impulses or thoughts as "sin"

did you feel guilty before you became a christian and were taught about sin?

Jason

I guess that one difference between us, where sin is concerned, is that I see it as something that has already been defined--by God. Left up to me, I could rationalize all sorts of behaviors as harmless and benign, and trivialize them in my mind so as to make them impotent. But because the standard is God's plumb line and not of my own making, I find them to be more harmful than I'd like to think they are. I can see them now through spiritual eyes that are not as clouded as my human eyes are... and I recognize how often I miss the mark.

Prior to becoming a Christian I did feel guilt when I did something wrong; I knew, on some level, that I had crossed a line I shouldn't have. But my best attempts to right things again were never sufficient to get rid of feeling guilty. The freedom I now have in Christ is that, even when I miss the mark I can take it to the Author of the law, knowing that He forgives me, and I can express my sorrow and regret at failing and I will be restored in my relationship with Him. This is much like the human father who tells us, "Just tell me the truth and we can resolve this issue." I will not be strapped or hit or banished; I will be back in the warm relationship I share with Someone I love deeply.

Interestingly enough, even if the conscience is not very receptive to spotting guilt, Scripture holds that we are accountable regardless. It's not that I live my life mentally chalking up a tally of my sins--it's that walking with Christ and filled with His Holy Spirit, the pitfalls are always being pointed out around me and a steadying arm is ever held out to lead me around them. His law is not a burden but a lantern for the road. It's the times that I refuse that arm and think I can maneuver on my own that trip me up.

Thanks, Jason, for the opportunity to have this exchange :-)

Thank you Carolyn. Have a great week.

scblhrm, don't stay away!

I apologized. Please remember that you told me about 30 times that my atheism values rape and love the same and I'm not demanding an apology from you on that :)

Seriously though, please come back to the discussion.

Please don't worry about SCBLHRM--he is a wonderful person who contributes a lot here and he is tough enough to recover :-) But also don't misinterpret the way he writes--look back over some older discussions and you'll see that it's just the way he does it. I admit that I don't always get all of it, but maybe my little mind just doesn't work the way his does! He can be very esoteric, poetic and lofty and sometimes he loses me. But the gist is always that he sees our God in the highest capacity and holds Him in the greatest reverence.

Hope you also have a fulfilling week.

Carolyn,

You seem really bright to me, but more importantly I can tell that you value people. Don't ever let someone's else style of prose make you feel inferior. I think it's much more effective to speak/write plainly.

Jason

Jason,

Three observations.

First:

You need not apologize as I did not list those reactions by you as a matter of fault finding but simply as a descriptive analysis of how it is we all respond to information which we are not sure of or which we simply do not believe to be true. If I believe X to be false, then, when, say, a “miracle” of “x” shows up, or someone tells me of their x, the inevitable sequence which follows is the death of a thousand qualifications. First, it will be the one telling me of his X which I somehow discredit or invalidate, and, supposing that fails, it will then cascade from there into all the variables surrounding that X with the death of a thousand qualifications. Ultimately it ends up with “Well, how can we know it is not an alien from another galaxy doing that medical miracle or injecting that emotion or doing that X?” and so on and so on. In other words, the X itself will never be enough because there will always be yet another variable to account for, ad infinitum.


And that is exactly as it should be.


In fact, that is exactly what every second-hand interaction we have with every person is like short of actually sitting down with that person.


Where Personhood is concerned, it will never otherwise. That is why I said to you all things will fall short as only He can traverse that gap. One on one. We must go there.


Second:


Regarding love and rape and kindness and cruelty and hunger and vomiting and so on, you seem to be disagreeing with what I said here:


“The human genome has, over time, according to the thesis of natural selection, embraced the benefits of various drives which have helped perpetuate it, and has thus maintained those various drives, over time, drives such as hunger, murder, vomiting, kindness, and so on with everything for there just is no such thing as a part of our genome which lies outside of that process and therefore we can say of all of man’s drives, even the ugly ones, “This too has been valued and retained by natural selection”. The genome makes no moral distinctions. It never has. It can’t. Anyone who thinks there is an impulse in man which natural selection is not responsible for, and still tries to claim natural selection (genomic mutations) as his method is simply wrong. If natural selection has favored kindness, then it has also favored cruelty, for natural selection alone is what has shaped our entire genome (in that theory). Natural selection has valued, and thus retained, even our “ugly” drives. In fact, it has valued those drives. That’s why those drives developed. That is why those drives are being maintained in the genome.”


If I am to apologize for that then every proponent of natural selection ought apologize for teaching, well, natural selection.


Third:


On evidence, you will have to dive into Him one on one. The painful paucity of God in the world begins to fade only there. How does one love another? Through books and mental gymnastics and videos? No. -Tis through love, Jason.

scblhrm,

Thanks for the response. In reply:

First

My apology was sincere. It's your choice whether to accept it or not.

I left confirmation bias behind when I left Christianity, as much as any person can leave confirmation bias behind. Specifically, I go with the evidence now, wherever that evidence may lead. I do not, as most Christians do in my experience, try to make everything fit into my world view. If something doesn't fit, I want to know why. I look for credible sources. If the evidence is compelling, I change my mind. That is the entire point of living rationally.

When I ask Christians here for direct personal evidence, specifically excluding "evidence" that comes from just emotions/thoughts. I am sincere in that request. Would I question evidence to see if it meets my criteria? Of course. That's not insulting or confirmation bias. That is applying the scientific method in search for the truth.

Second

We beat this horse to death. You and I simply have different opinions as to the origin and nature of morality. I don't require or see an "outside" force for morality. All good/bad morals are within us and we have to choose. I choose love. It's as simply as that.

It is clear that we will never agree on this particular point. There is nothing you or I can do to change the others mind on this point, so let's just move on from this particular point of discussion.

Side note: I didn't require an apology for you equating rape/love in my world view. I think it's interesting that I took a more Christian approach to reconciliation that you did. I apologized to you based on the appearance (correct or incorrect) that I had hurt your feelings. Because I value people above all else, I felt compelled to try and make it right with you. You fail to see how your comments were insulting, or more specifically that I felt insulted (correctly or incorrectly). Your concern seems to be for your argument and not for reconciliation with me.


Third

I did "dive into him", for 35 years, sincerely. There was just nothing there once I took the rose colored glasses off, stopped using confirmation bias, and looked at the evidence objectively.

I hope to continue our discussions as I think they are useful for both "sides" to understand the other, and understanding makes the world a better place.

Jason

The comments to this entry are closed.