Saturday, January 26, 2008

Faith cast in concrete sinks

In the comments on my last post, jaycee wrote (Jan. 26, 10:03 a.m.):

"The problem with religion is that it is cast in concrete. Folks generations ago who never knew the extent of God’s world or its evolutionary history came up with their best shot on how things came about and how we should get where we’re going, and they’ve successfully imposed it upon successive generations. But we've never bothered to update the manual."

I agree. Concrete is exactly what religion shouldn't be. A living, breathing faith must have the ability to grow, to be open to new revelation. If we believe in a God who seeks us out, who meets us where we are and seeks to draw us ever closer, then we can't assume that there's no more to learn.

Part of the early struggle in Christianity was a tug between those who thought the rules had been set in stone and those who were willing to live into a new faith.

Today many Christians reject the cast-in-concrete approach. They value the discoveries of science and welcome new insights. They are more interested in loving like God than speaking for God. Perhaps they aren't the ones who get the most attention, but they are the ones who will keep the faith alive for future generations.

jaycee added: "The pastor of a Park Road rock & roll church once preached: 'Secularism is the greatest threat to Christianity'. Darn tooting it is, and for good reason!"

I heartily disagree! The greatest threat to Christianity is (and always has been) Christians who don't follow the example of Christ.

85 comments:

pornstudent said...

Aren't people who believe the Bible as the literal, perfect, eternal words of God casting their faith in concrete? All those "Bible believing" churches' faith is set in concrete and I think they would say that is how it should be.

Nick said...

My faith is in concrete. This is how though. I do believe there are new things to learn, but they will not contradict old truths. I would not accept a new revelation that denied that Jesus is the Son of God for instance.

As for interpretation, the Scriptures I believe are infallable but my interpretations are not. Now there are some I'm more prone to hold tight to. Don't count on me to give up the Trinity for instance. That's a hard one to miss. Could I be wrong on something like eschatology though? Sure.

I'm not against science helping our interpretation either. It does and it has before just like archaeology has. I am against it though "Spiritualizing" everything away in the Scriptures.

Chris said...

It brings up the point: can there be moderates in religion? You can't pick and choose, in my opinion, what parts of the Bible you like and don't like to believe in. You accept the Bible as the word of God -- or you don't.

That'd be like a scientist saying he doesn't believe in gravity -- except for square objects. Round ones have different rules that he made up. It doesn't work.

If you keep changing and adopting faith to suit the times then the work that you base it on also has to change. Unless you want to keep all the parts about killing kids for misbehaving and waging wars against non-believers.

Danbo59 said...

One could also say that "faith cast in concrete" cannot easily be toppled.

It depends on for what purpose that concrete is used.

pornstudent said...

If there is a God and Christ, they would exist even if the Bible didn't. Belief in the Bible isn't a requirement for salvation.

Some would say that without the Bible people wouldn't know about God and salvation. Why not? Most reality is perceived and experienced without a book, eg, the warmth of the sun, hunger and love.

Wouldn't it be odd if we were having a conversation with a friend (or God) and he told us to read a book to make sure he was really saying what he was saying?

Many religious people are OK living with contradictions (they prefer to call them paradoxes or mysteries). Maybe, in that sense, their faith isn't cast in concrete.
But, if they knew and accepted the paradoxes in their faith, then it seems they would be less concrete in their views of morality, eg, homosexuality and extramarital sex.

Danbo59 said...

I accept that within my faith their are numerous mysteries. Yet, that doesn't dissuade me from the knowledge that homosexuality, pre-marital sex and extra-marital sex are dead wrong.

Anonymous said...

Why are they wrong? Didn't God create homosexuals?

Nick said...

I see some things hard to understand in Christianity, but not outright contradictions. Contradictions by definition are necessarily false no matter what worldview you're in.

Danbo59 said...
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Danbo59 said...
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Danbo59 said...

Anonymous said, "Why are they wrong? Didn't God create homosexuals?"

No, God created man (as in mankind).

I didn't say homosexuals were wrong. I said homosexuality is wrong. There's a difference.

If the answer to your argument, "Didn't God create homosexuals?" were, "Yes," it could be argued, "God made adulterers," or "God made murderers," or "God made zoophiles." Your logic doesn't wash.

Anonymous said...

Danbo, I assume you are referring to Leviticus? Are we supposed to stone those practicing homosexuality as well?

So is can you tell us, should we be bound by Leviticus or not?

Or do you pick and choose from it what fits you at a particular time.

Sincerely,
Iztok

Nick said...

Question Iztok. Theocracy. What is it?

Another question: What law were the Gentile nations bound under?

Another question: Why were the pagans being expelled from the promised land?

Thanks!

Danbo59 said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Danbo59 said...

Iztok wrote, "...Are we supposed to stone those practicing homosexuality as well? So is can you tell us, should we be bound by Leviticus or not? Or do you pick and choose from it what fits you at a particular time."

Iztok, you need to get your head out of your...clouds.

I said nothing about how we should treat homosexuals. I said the act of homosexuality is wrong. Get over it. How should we deal with homosexuals? I think I've answered that about 100 times on this board -- "You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your mind, with all your strength; and you shall love your neighbor as you do yourself." In addition, "Judge [your neighbor] not, lest ye be judged."

To those of us who get our life direction from somewhere other than a bubble gum wrapper, judging people is not the same thing as judging acts.

Murder is wrong. A murderer is to be prayed for (and shown compassion and Christian love).

Adultery is wrong. Adulterers are to be prayed for (and shown compassion and Christian love).

Homosexuality is wrong. A homosexual is to be prayed for (and shown compassion and Christian love).

Get it yet?

Anonymous said...

Danbo, how do you KNOW homosexuality is wrong? Is it because you've learned this from Leviticus? If so, are all items that are forbidden in Leviticus still forbidden/wrong now or you can pick and choose?

Sincerely,
Iztok

D.J. said...

Iztok,

"If so, are all items that are forbidden in Leviticus still forbidden/wrong now or you can pick and choose?"

I know for a fact I've explained this to you before, but for others here I will repeat. The Mosaic Law of the Old Testament has been fulfilled in Christ and Christians today are not bound by its demands (read the book of Hebrews). We are still to follow the moral aspects of the law (not the ceremonial and civil aspects), this is also clear from an honest reading of the New Testament. The NT writers state that the law has been fulfilled in Christ, yet they still call us to observe the moral commands in the law, one of which is to abstain from homosexual behavior (see Romans 1, among others).

Iztok, you by no means have to agree with what I say, but it would be nice if you would listen to and seek to understand my answers rather than asking the same questions over and over again.

Soli Deo Gloria

Chris said...

If the Bible is the rulebook and God is the final arbiter, we can never expect to have any sort of peace with Muslims or other religions. Because the rulebook (and arguably the definition of God) is different.

Is there room for tolerance in the 'concrete'?

If so, why do we need law such as a gay marriage amendment? Why try to repeal Roe v Wade? Or even more, why try to put faith in schools disguised as science, via Intelligent Design, in schools?

I don't believe that we can have concrete AND tolerance because they eat away at each other. If God is going to rule on these decisions and we don't have to punish per the Bible (just follow the code), then we don't need these laws hard-coded into our justice system, per se. Just a set of common rules that we can all agree. I don't see why keep getting force fed beliefs from your religion all the time.

pornstudent said...

Danbo59 - "... homosexuality, pre-marital sex and extra-marital sex are dead wrong."

Anonymous - "Why are they wrong?"

Danbo59 never answered the question.

Nick thinks homosexuality is wrong because the Bible says so. I suppose he would also say pre-marital sex and extra-marital sex are wrong because the Bible says so.

If people weren't concrete in their faith in the Bible then they wouldn't be as concrete in their judgments of others.

A man can make love to another man, and a women can make love to another woman, with as much love as any heterosexual couple. Their relationship outside of sex can be just as loving. To say they are "dead wrong" is a good example of how faith cast in concrete stinks.

pornstudent said...

Chris - "If the Bible is the rulebook and God is the final arbiter, we can never expect to have any sort of peace with Muslims or other religions."

According to the Bible, Jesus isn't about peace between religions. "Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword." - (Matthew 10:33-35) "...With justice he judges and makes war." - (Revelation 19:11)

There isn't much tolerance in religion. The more concrete the faith, the less tolerant, and the more likely people will be judged and punished.

Iztok said...

DJ, I understand. You took the comment out of context (something you preach against when we talk about your holy writ).

"We are still to follow the moral aspects of the law (not the ceremonial and civil aspects)"

Is there a master list distinguishing between moral and ceremonial?

How come one can now eat certain animals but not have sex with person that he or she loves?

Last time I've checked adultery is not a crime (unless you happen to live in a theistic country, but then there even certain thoughts are a crime - sounds like dictatorship, doesn't it?).

Now say killing is something that is forbidden, right? Unless you draw a sword against member of a different religious affiliation, right? (otherwise why would Jesus advocate his followers to sell things and by sword to follow?)

Sincerely,
Iztok

Danbo59 said...

Why is homosexuality wrong? Because it interferes with (flies in the face of) God's plan of Creation (procreation), that's why. "Be fruitful and multiply." "The two shall become one flesh."

It's the same reason extramarital and premarital sex is wrong. The same reason why abortion and birth control are wrong. The same reason in vitro fertilization is wrong. They interfere with God's natural plan for mankind -- that of procreation.

It really galls you, Iztok, dosn't it that there are people who look to God for guidance in their lives, doesn't it? How sad for you. I'm not so proud that I can't say that I need guidance from time to time, and I look foremost to God for that guidance.

As for pornstudent (nice handle, kid), it's disingenuous to expect that every stupid question Iztok asks (and re-asks, over and over) deserves an answer, while he and you have nothing to offer except adding fuel to the fire.

pornstudent said...

Danbo59,

You think homosexuality, extramarital sex, premarital sex, abortion, birth control and in vitro fertilization are wrong because the Bible says, "Be fruitful and multiply" and "The two shall become one flesh."

If you weren't concrete in your faith in the Bible and in others' interpretations of it, then you wouldn't need to be as concrete in your judgment of others.

Nick said...

Who said I think homosexuality is wrong because the Bible says so? I think it is wrong and the Bible just testifies to what is true. It's no different from saying that murder is wrong because the Bible says so. Murder is wrong regardless of Scripture, but Scripture records that fact.

Consider the Leviticus passage where homosexuality is condemned. God tells Israel that the other nations are being expelled from the land because of homosexuality and the other practices mentioned. This is before the Law of Moses. That means it's not part of that Law, but part of the natural law Paul talked about in Romans 2 that is written on our hearts.

Simple facts. First off, homosexual couples are incapable of producing children. This isn't because of malfunctions in the system though, but because of the system itself.

Secondly, the parts don't fit. Look at human anatomy and you'll realize what goes where.

Thirdly, if we were to by some action banish all homosexuals and have a land of only heterosexuals and one of only homosexuals and never the twain shall meet, when we came back in 100 years, which community do you think would be thriving?

And yes, I do condemn pre-marital sex and extra-marital sex due to the nature of what sexuality is, something our culture is quite ignorant of. As Kreeft would say, "It's when everyone's pipes are leaking that people buy books on plumbing."

Bill Van Fleet said...

Our species probably has always had its religions, and they have served important functions. The most important function has been that of helping us to bond together, treat each other well, care about each other, work together toward making the world a better place, etc. These are parts of our basic animal nature. But our basic animal nature also has aspects that have indeed promoted survival of the species but have had nothing to do with the quality of life. Our religions have also had components that are manifestations of these unfortunate tendencies. So, religions have not only helped us to experience joy, contentment, and appreciation (JCA), but they have also caused us to engage in behavior promoting much pain, suffering, disability, and early death (PSDED).

Our species has accomplished so much, with the development of language and later with the development of the rules of logic and the rules of evidence (the epitomy of which is science). We have these wonderful tools, but because of our basic animal nature, we have used them not only for JCA but also in ways that have caused PSDED. But because of these new tools (language, science), we have the wonderful opportunity of changing ourselves into a species that, globally, lives according to the ethical principle that we should do that which will promote not only our survival but also maximal JCA and minimal PSDED, for everyone, now and in the future. And it is the function of religion, more than any other societal institution, to help us to do that.

But we have to look at our religions realistically and recognize that improvement is needed (in all of them). So we have to recognize that there are some unfortunate aspects of the religions that need to be relinquished, and other aspects that need to be enhanced. It is as if all religions are around the base of a mountain and are traveling up the mountain. The upward direction represents improvement. Each religion is perhaps something like a worm that grows at the upper end and atrophies at the lower end. And we do indeed see religions changing gradually, with reform movements, reconsiderations, etc.

This blog is perhaps an example of how we are improving. No one is getting shunned, excommunicated, tortured, or killed for expressing his or her opinion. That makes growth much more possible.

If we ever do get to where we live according to this new ultimate ethical principle, we will have undergone our third exponential change, making us drastically different from all other species and drastically different from the way we were before the change took place. But we have to have the vision that we are now just a toddler. We have so much to do, but so much to look forward to (especially for our progeny). And if we work to change ourselves now, we ourselves will benefit from such change. We will make the world a better place within our spheres of influence and within the limits of our capabilities. This is what our religions need to help us do.

But it is we that produce our religions and it is we that change them and help them grow.

Bill Van Fleet
HomoRationalis.com

pornstudent said...

Sorry, Nick. I thought DJ's comment was yours.

Then, religion is not the reason you think homosexuality is wrong?

I disagree with the facts you mention, but even if they were true, they wouldn't give me a reason to think homosexuality is wrong.

We disagree on what sexuality is. I think it is mostly for fun and you think it is mostly (all?) for procreation.

Iztok said...

Danbo: "It's the same reason extramarital and premarital sex is wrong. The same reason why abortion and birth control are wrong. The same reason in vitro fertilization is wrong. They interfere with God's natural plan for mankind -- that of procreation."

So let me see... sex for sex alone is wrong unless it is coupled with procreation? Hence homosexual sex is wrong because it doesn't lead to procreation and premarital and extramarital sex is only wrong if no baby is a result of it? In vitro fertilization is wrong? Why? It serves procreation purposes, doesn't it? Or is procreation only allowed when sex is involved and sex is only allowed when procreation is involved?

So people who are born infertile shouldn't have sex? People who had ovarian cancer (God's gift?) and ovaries removed, they shouldn't have sex as they know procreation is not possible?

Birth control. Hm... it is wrong to use condom when your partner is HIV positive?

Homosexuality can't be the same wrong as murder. Murder is interference with someone elses right of living, while homosexuality is not. (as long as it is between two consenting adults) Having homosexual relations doesn't take anything away from other partner, it enhances them in the same way as heterosexual relationship does. You are not inferring someones rights by having homosexual sex, do you? You are not raping your partner. So how can homosexuality be in the same category as murder?

Danbo, I will go ahead and say it out loud, you are a bigot!

Sincerely,
Iztok

Danbo59 said...

pornstudent droned, "If you weren't concrete in your faith in the Bible and in others' interpretations of it, then you wouldn't need to be as concrete in your judgment of others."

For those who have the ability to comprehend what is written, judging actions does not equate to judging people.

pornstudent misquoted me in saying, "You think homosexuality, extramarital sex, premarital sex, abortion, birth control and in vitro fertilization are wrong because the Bible says, "Be fruitful and multiply" and "The two shall become one flesh.""

Wrong (again), pornstudent. I said those actons are wrong because they contradict God's plan of Creation. They interfere with the natural plan God intended for man.

Reading Comprehension 101 is available at most good high schools and colleges.

Danbo59 said...

Iztok babbled, "So let me see... sex for sex alone is wrong unless it is coupled with procreation?"

Nope. Didn't say that. I said that extramarital and premarital sex arewrong. I said abortion and birth control are wrong. I said in vitro fertilization is wrong. They INTERFERE with the natural plan of creation.

I didn't say that sex is only for creation, but I said it is immoral to interfere with the natural processes that *can* result in the creation of life.

Person who are naturally sterile are what they are. They don't interfere with a plan because they don't have the tools to participate in the plan (so to speak). A married couple CHOOSING to *actively* prevent conception is amoral.

Danbo59 said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Danbo59 said...

Iztok continues his tirade, "So let me see... sex for sex alone is wrong unless it is coupled with procreation? Hence homosexual sex is wrong because it doesn't lead to procreation and premarital and extramarital sex is only wrong if no baby is a result of it? In vitro fertilization is wrong? Why? It serves procreation purposes, doesn't it? Or is procreation only allowed when sex is involved and sex is only allowed when procreation is involved?"

Reading Comprehension 101 is not your strong suit either, is it?

Read below and answer your own questions above.

It is amoral for a person to *actively* interfere in the *natural* process that may lead to the creation of new life.

In vitro is not natural -- it involves a scientist picking ad choosing (and usually destroying "superfluous" zygotes = human beings).

Your ovarian cancer question is a red herring. Self-preservation is paramount. That also covers your AIDS question. For example, murder is not a crime or immoral when it is done in self-defense.

Your rants and raves are so base, so childish that it's simply tiresome answering them.

"Bigot" -- a word used by someone who falls for anything for someone who stands for something.

Thank you for the compliment.

God bless you. I continue to pray for you, Iztok! I pray that one day you will see The Light. I pray that you don't see it in your rearview mirror.

Yours In Christ,

Dan

pornstudent said...

Danbo, You quoted the Bible, "Be fruitful and multiply" and "The two shall become one flesh" when you said homosexuality is wrong. If you want to stop using the Bible to explain why you are a bigot, that's fine with me.

bill van fleet said...

So if you were to accept as your ultimate ethical principle that "we should do that which will promote not only survival of our species but also the good life for everyone, now and in the future, the good life meaning as much joy, contentment, and appreciation (JCA) as possible and as little pain, suffering, disability, and early death (PSDED) as possible," who would be correct?

Danbo59 said...

Some say we were put on this Earth to rise above the natural order.

I say we were put on this Earth above the natural order. Some, like Iztok and pornstudent, choose to sink below it and call those who strive for better "bigots."

Maybe that concrete is on the "other foot."

pornstudent said...

Danbo,

According to Webster, a bigot is "a person obstinately or intolerantly devoted to his or her own opinions and prejudices; especially one who regards or treats the members of a group (as a racial or ethnic group) with hatred and intolerance."

Your "faith cast in concrete" is sinking you fast when you think being called a bigot is a compliment.

bill van fleet said...

So each of you bases your argument on propositions the accuracy or truth of which there is no scientific evidence for? So there is no answer? Just arbitrarily chosen opinion? And on the basis of that, you criticize the other? To see who will win? Something any two chimpanzees could and would do? Part of our basic animal nature?

Iztok said...

Danbo: "Person who are naturally sterile are what they are. They don't interfere with a plan because they don't have the tools to participate in the plan (so to speak)."

So two gay people are perfectly ok having sex with each other. They don't interfere with a plan because they don't have the tools to participate in the plan (so to speak).

Gay people naturally can't procreate (they are usually result of procreation of two heterosexual people).

So again, what exactly is wrong with homosexuality then? Obviously they can't mess up the plan can they?

So Danbo, why sex between sterile heterosexuals is ok and sex between two homosexuals is not? In case you will say that homosexuals could procreate should they have sex with opposite gender. Now let's assume you have sterile homosexual couple (that couldn't procreate even if they would have sex with member of opposite gender), is it ok for them to have homosexual sex or not? If no, care to explain why?

Sincerely,
Iztok

pornstudent said...

Danbo - "... judging actions does not equate to judging people."

Most homosexuals would say they were born homosexual. It's what they are. We can't separate our sex preference from ourselves. It's part of us. Danbo, do you have any sexual desire? If you're like most of us, you do. It's way inside you. If this desire were for your same sex, would you say it is wrong? even if you didn't act on it?

Christians often say, "Love the sinner, but hate the sin." When your hate of homosexuality causes you to deny homosexuals the same rights you expect for yourself, aren't you loving them less?

bill van fleet said...

So by what criterion are you going to decide who is correct? Or does that matter?

Bill Van Fleet
HomoRationalis.com

Danbo59 said...

Oh, good gracious, Iztok, can you find something else to do other than 'what if" everything to death.

Homeosexuality is wrong. It is amoral.

Here's one for you...did these two sterile homosexuals decide to be homosexual because they are both sterile or was it pure chance that brought them together? What percent of homosexual couples are comprised of two naturally sterile individuals?

Amazing.

As for pornstudent, I do consider the term bigot a compliment, given *my* definition -- not yours.

Reading Comprehension 101 -- You ahve to read all the words, pornstudent, not just the small ones. Back to your hobby, now.

Danbo59 said...

pornstudent muses, "Most homosexuals would say they were born homosexual."

Would they? Is that scientific research you're quoting? I wonder what most homicidal maniacs say about their behavior?

pornstudent says, ""Love the sinner, but hate the sin." When your hate of homosexuality causes you to deny homosexuals the same rights you expect for yourself, aren't you loving them less?"

Yes, a person who does so *is* loving them less. I don't do so.

If you're heading for "gay marriage," marriage is not a right secured by the Constitution. I could not care less if the State decided to abolish **all** marriage. It'd cost me less in taxes. Besides, I was married in a Church and that's all I need to be married. The State doesn't really need to have anything to do with it.

pornstudent said...

Danbo,

It is a fact, most homosexuals would say they were born homosexual. It's who they are. When you judge their behavior you are judging them.

Bill - "So by what criterion are you going to decide who is correct? Or does that matter?"

Whoever is more reasonable and compassionate is correct. It does matter who is correct because many people have been discriminated against, imprisoned and murdered by bigots.

bill van fleet said...

What is your definition of reasonable?

Bill Van Fleet
HomoRationalis.com

pornstudent said...

rational

Iztok said...

Danbo, you never really answered why homosexuality is wrong. You asserted it is because of lack of reproductive capabilities but when called upon it with comparison of infertile couple you somehow tried to change your answer.

Is two infertile heterosexual couple having sex wrong or not? (You said it is not as they are not messing up with the plan.)

Is two infertile homosexual couple having sex wrong or not?

This is the tricky one as per your original answer this is perfectly ok, since they are not messing up plan, but you still claim homosexuality is wrong, this led me to believe you discriminate homosexuals based on their sexual orientation not based on their messing up some plan you made up in your mind.

So is homosexuality of two infertile people moral or not?

Sincerely,
Iztok

bill van fleet said...

Pornstudent,

In what I write I use the word "rational" a lot. I have a specific meaning for it, and I wonder if you are using the word in the same way. I use it as an adjective to describe a belief that is consistent with other beliefs that have met the legitimization criterion of being consistent with the rules of logic and the rules of evidence. The rules of logic are found in textbooks on logic. The rules of evidence are all of those rules that have been found effective in the sciences, rules that help us to avoid fooling ourselves (experimental design, statistical analysis, etc.).

Are we in agreement?

Bill Van Fleet
HomoRationalis.com

bill van fleet said...

Pornstudent,

Some claim a higher ethical principle than being rational and compassionate, namely, to obey God. So does God want us to be rational and compassionate. Is God rational and compassionate. I would say God as described in the Old Testament is not very compassionate compared to descriptions of God in the New Testament. Torturing people for all eternity because they are unable to believe that they will be tortured for all eternity if they don't believe that does not sound compassionate, any more than engaging in ethnic cleansing, punishing one's offspring for what one does, etc. If God as described in the NT is different from God as described in the OT, did God change? Or is the OT wrong? Or is the NT wrong? Or are they both wrong?

I do believe we should be rational and compassionate. I believe we should do that which will promote not only the survival of our species but also maximal JCA and minimal PSDED, for everyone, now and in the future.

So do we agree?

Bill Van Fleet
HomoRationalis.com

Danbo59 said...

Sorry, Iztok. Stupid questions are only answered once.

pornstudent said...

Yes, Bill.

bill van fleet said...

Pornstudent,

Then you would probably appreciate the free book at the website.

Bill Van Fleet
HomoRationalis.com

bill van fleet said...

Danbo59,

What is the definition of "stupid" in "stupid question"? How is one supposed to recognize that a question he or she is about to ask is a "stupid" one?

Thanks.

Bill Van Fleet
HomoRationalis.com

pornstudent said...

Bill, what do you think? Are homosexuality and extramarital sex wrong?

Iztok, Danbo said, "Homeosexuality [sic] is wrong. It is amoral." (I think he meant to say immoral.) Danbo would answer, "No" to your question, "So is homosexuality of two infertile people moral or not?" His answer would reveal that his real reason for thinking homosexuality is wrong has little to do with procreation. If he said homosexuality is wrong because the Bible says so, then we could have a polite discussion about his faith being cast in concrete, eg, "What the heck is wrong with not procreating in an over populated world?"

Iztok said...

Danbo, you didn't answer the question at the first place.

Bill Van Fleet: Eternal punishment only comes with "just" Jesus (mild and meek). Hell as NT knows it is not know in OT.

Sincerely,
Iztok

bill van fleet said...

Pornstudent,

You asked if homosexuality and extramarital sex are wrong in my opinion.

They are not wrong if they are consistent with the ultimate ethical principle. The ultimate ethical principle that comes naturally to us is the authoritarian-ethical ultimate ethical principle, that we should obey the most powerful (parent, leader, group, culture, deity). But who is most powerful is seen differently by different people, so most anything can be right or wrong depending upon whom you are obeying.

My thesis is that we are gradually moving away from the authoritarian-ethical ultimate ethical principle to the new, rational-ethical ultimate ethical principle (REUEP), that "we should do that which will promote not only the survival of our species but also the good life (maximal JCA, minimal PSDED) for everyone, now and in the future." When we have accomplished this almost completely, globally, we will be drastically different than we have ever been so far. This will have been the third exponential change. We are now just a toddler.

Cultures have a lot of good in them, but they also cause a lot of PSDED, and to that extent we are victims of our cultures. We actively poison ourselves and our children with a strongly coerced poisonous diet, for instance. But it is hard to see that one is a victim of his or her own culture, because the culture defines as right the very things that cause so much PSDED. Female genital mutilation is an example. The girls, some of whom die in the process, demand to have the procedure because it is the right thing to do. Children look forward to when they can become a suicide bomber in certain cultures. We can look into other cultures and see how others are victims of their cultures, but it is hard for us to see how we are victimized by our own.

So whether homosexuality and extramarital sex are wrong depends on what your ultimate ethical principle is. I advocate for the REUEP. So then I would ask whether these behaviors cause PSDED, or more PSDED than alternative possible behaviors. For instance, there is a difference between extramarital sex in the context of an open marriage versus in the context of deception. I believe that one has to look at the individual situation to assess what the right thing is to do. But ethical rules of conduct serve as warnings when we are about to engage in behavior that has a high risk of turning out to cause PSDED. They tend to make us stop and think before we act.

Bill Van Fleet
HomoRationalis.com

bill van fleet said...

Thanks, Iztok, for correcting me. You are right about the Hell thing. But don't you think that God was angrier and more vengeful in the OT?

Bill Van Fleet
HomoRationalis.com

Jane Pope said...

I would like to remind everyone that we are here to discuss spiritual matters, not to insult one another. Calling someone a “bigot” or “childish” – or labeling questions as “stupid” – creates heat, not light. Please speak of your own beliefs rather than disparaging other beliefs or believers (or non-believers). Thanks.

Nick said...

Pornstudent. My view of sexuality is that intercourse is meant chiefly for procreation and intimacy and pleasure are the accidents of it. (That's not a bad thing. Eating is meant for survival, but the joy of food is an accident.)

I believe the Bible says it's wrong and I agree, but my reasoning is not "The Bible says so" but reason indicates that it is.

As for Bill, I simply have one question. What is the purpose of religion in your worldview?

Iztok said...

Bill: "But don't you think that God was angrier and more vengeful in the OT?"

One can certainly see the personality shift between God of the OT and God of the NT. Punishment certainly got more refined. Honestly I would rather be punished by turning into a pillar of salt for looking back vs. tormented for eternity in hell for nothing more then a "thought crime". At least skids in the OT didn't have to live their life in fear of being roasted after they die (fear so lovely presented by their religious parents).

Nick: "I believe the Bible says it's wrong and I agree, but my reasoning is not "The Bible says so" but reason indicates that it is."

Your reasoning is that reason indicates it? Care to elaborate on that?

Nick said...

Iztok. I already did so several posts back. I pointed out why I don't see homosexuality as a moral stance.

Btw, I'm STILL waiting on you to reply to me about Secret Mark.

bill van fleet said...

Nick - "As for Bill, I simply have one question. What is the purpose of religion in your worldview?"

Nick, the problem is that the question implies an assumption that I don't make. When we ask what the purpose of something is, we usually mean that a sentient being has designed the something in order to accomplish something the sentient being wanted to accomplish. So first we would have to ask what sentient being we were referring to, and what religion or religions we were referring to.

I think that it is more helpful to ask what the function is or functions are of religion(s). By this all I mean is "What is or are the thing(s) that religion(s) seem to do?" And then we can ask whether we want those things to be done, whether there is a better way to do them, etc.

I begin the chapter on Rational-Ethical Religion in the following way:
***********
In this chapter, I will attempt to predict what religion will be like in the time of “Homo rationalis,” clarify how it will be different from religion as it currently exists, explain why the differences will presumably be better, and speculate as to how the transition may occur from religion as it currently is to religion as it will be then. (Adequate understanding of this chapter will, of course, depend upon the reader having read the earlier parts of this book.)

First, we must have some agreement as to what we shall mean by “religion,” by which we will also mean that set of phenomena that we designate as “religions.”

There are many definitions of “religion.” In our effort to predict what life will be like in the time of “Homo rationalis,” we can assume that they will probably use words in a somewhat different manner than we do. Even currently, however, all religions have in common the goal of helping individuals to achieve the belief that they know the best way to live (how to live optimally). In other words, using the terminology of this book, all religions consist in part of attempts to optimize ethical belief, that set of beliefs about what we should do, how we should live our lives, or “what is important in life.” There are, of course, other characteristics and components, but these other characteristics and components vary so much among the various religions that they do not seem quite as fundamental a part of “religion” as does the optimization of ethical belief. So, for our purposes, “religion” will be defined as those individual and group psychosocial activities the most important function of which is optimization of ethical belief (recognizing that there are indeed several other functions of those activities also).

The reader should note that this definition does, therefore, include some sets of beliefs that have been labeled “philosophies.” In fact, any distinction between “philosophy” and “religion” is going to be an act of definition, most likely different for different discussions. For the purposes of this book, as the reader will see, the above definition of “religion” will allow us to discuss with greatest clarity the most important concepts to which the reader’s attention is being called. The reader should also note that, according to this use of language, this book is a religious book.
*****************
Does that begin to answer the question?

Bill Van Fleet
HomoRationalis.com

Nick said...

Bill. Then apparently, our presuppositions are the problem.

It seems for you, all religions are naturally man-made so that it is the purpose of religion not to tell us about God so much as how to get along with our fellow man. They can't tell us about God since none of them are from him. They are just our ideas about him.

As for me though as a Christian, I find it reasonable to see my religion as revealed from God and thus, the purpose of religion is not to tell me how to treat my fellow man, but reveal truth about God and the universe he created and how to live accordingly.

So the question would be, why should I leave my presuppositions for yours?

Bill Van Fleet said...

Nick, I am in bold.

Bill. Then apparently, our presuppositions are the problem.

See below re: "presuppositions"

It seems for you, all religions are naturally man-made so that it is the purpose of religion not to tell us about God so much as how to get along with our fellow man. They can't tell us about God since none of them are from him. They are just our ideas about him.

I would not necessarily say they were "man-made," but that they appeared along with language, group phenomena, the development of prefrontal cortex, etc. I would not necessarily say that chimps' ability to use stems to fish for termites was "chimp-made."

You would say that no activities of humans (e.g., science) can tell us about entities (e.g., volcanoes), because those procedures are not from the entities (science is not from volcanoes)? If God tells us about himself, then don't we therefore just have our ideas about him, obtained from him? What is it that we have that is not "just our ideas about him"?

As I pointed out, I don't say that "the purpose of religion is to...." I say that our religions have various "functions," just as do our technology, manner of dress, language, etc.


As for me though as a Christian, I find it reasonable to see my religion as revealed from God and thus, the purpose of religion is not to tell me how to treat my fellow man, but reveal truth about God and the universe he created and how to live accordingly.

Was your religion revealed to you by God, or by your parents, Sunday school, etc.?

"...and how to live accordingly." Does this refer to how to treat your fellow man?


So the question would be, why should I leave my presuppositions for yours?

I don't think you necessarily should. But if you were to, it should only be because you believed that my way of modeling existence was more accurate and helpful. And I don't know what you are considering to be "presuppositions" as opposed to definitions and/or conclusions. To call a person's ideas "presuppositions" somewhat implies that the person has done no thinking about them, just accepting them as given.

Bill Van Fleet
HomoRationalis.com

pornstudent said...

Nick, in your reasoning for the immorality of homosexuality you referred to the Bible then you mentioned three "facts". I disagree with these "facts" because homosexuals can have kids using in vitro fertilization and surrogacy, and the rectum is very close to the vagina. But even if these "facts" were true, why would they make homosexuality wrong? What is immoral about having sex without getting pregnant?

As far as it being immoral to do things that we weren't created for, you first of all need to believe there is a creator. Then, how would we know what it is we are created for, I mean, would it be OK to play golf and fly? Then, we need to ask, why would it be immoral to do something we weren't created for?

If it is a matter of faith that homosexuality is immoral, why not admit it? Christians accept and reject many things on faith.

Nick said...

Bill: I would not necessarily say they were "man-made," but that they appeared along with language, group phenomena, the development of prefrontal cortex, etc. I would not necessarily say that chimps' ability to use stems to fish for termites was "chimp-made."

Me: An ability is not the same as a belief system. A belief system is either given by another or comes from the person himself.

Bill: You would say that no activities of humans (e.g., science) can tell us about entities (e.g., volcanoes), because those procedures are not from the entities (science is not from volcanoes)? If God tells us about himself, then don't we therefore just have our ideas about him, obtained from him? What is it that we have that is not "just our ideas about him"?

Me: Not at all. I would say that reason alone can tell us a number of things even about God, but there are things it cannot tell us about God. I could not find out the doctrine of the Trinity or the atonement by reason alone. This is where divine revelation comes in.

Bill: As I pointed out, I don't say that "the purpose of religion is to...." I say that our religions have various "functions," just as do our technology, manner of dress, language, etc.

Me: Perchance for others, but for mine, the function of religion is to reveal God as he is that I may know him as he is. This may hit on other areas, and in fact will, but those are secondary.



Bill: Was your religion revealed to you by God, or by your parents, Sunday school, etc.?

Me: Notice I did not say revealed to me but simply revealed. How I came to the knowledge that it came from God is something else and I have gone through my share of skepticism and doubt before, but the more I read and learn, the more convinced I am that my faith in Christ is very well-placed.

Bill: "...and how to live accordingly." Does this refer to how to treat your fellow man?

Me: It refers to all areas. My fellow man is just a part. How do I treat the world itself? How do I treat myself? How do I respond to God? Christianity allows me to treat things as they are, which is most importantly God.



Bill: I don't think you necessarily should. But if you were to, it should only be because you believed that my way of modeling existence was more accurate and helpful. And I don't know what you are considering to be "presuppositions" as opposed to definitions and/or conclusions. To call a person's ideas "presuppositions" somewhat implies that the person has done no thinking about them, just accepting them as given.

Me: No. I accept there is thinking behind them, but there is presuppositions behind the thinking. Those could have been thought through as well, but they are there. It is simply in understanding the worldview others come from.

I agree, I should only change belief X to belief Y because X is false and Y is true. I have yet to meet someone who can give me a reason why Christ is not true though.

Nick said...

Pornstudent.

Notice the ways you mentioned homosexuals having children are not the natural ways. This is just revealing that the system inherently does not work. It is not that the system is malfunctioning, but that the whole system is in error.

Now is it a sin to have sexual intercourse and not get pregnant? Not at all. However, I think the door should be open for that. We cannot control whether we get pregnant or not, but we can certainly limit the possibilities. It all depends on what sexuality is.

And this is what is the problem with homosexuality. It does not treat the man as a man and the woman as a woman. It denies that there is any design whatsoever to sexuality and any higher purpose. If the purpose of sexual intercourse is to produce children, then homosexuality certainly falls.

By the way, this is not just a religious opinion. You can find it in several other writings. Go read the Laws, a dialogue of Plato, and see how he condemns homosexuality as well.

pornstudent said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
pornstudent said...

Nick - "... the ways you mentioned homosexuals having children [in vitro fertilization and surrogacy] are not the natural ways." What does this have to do with homosexuality being immoral?

"This is just revealing that the system inherently does not work." Homosexuals aren't having sex in order to have kids so there isn't a failure, malfunction or error in the "system."

"... homosexuality does not treat the man as a man and the woman as a woman." Not as heterosexuals do. So?

"Now is it a sin to have sexual intercourse and not get pregnant? Not at all. However, I think the door should be open for that." You mean there needs to be the possibility of pregnancy in order for sex not to be sinful? This is getting complicated.

"It denies that there is any design whatsoever to sexuality and any higher purpose." Not necessarily. But this is a matter of faith in a creator.

I don't think I'll be reading Laws any time soon, but thanks for the reference.

Anonymous said...

pornstudent, the Bible is not believed by people of faith to be the WORDS of God, but to contain the Word of God. I am sure that you have the brains to know the difference.

Nick said...

PornStudent. The question is simply "What is the purpose of sexual intercourse?" I would contend that it is procreation simply because sexual intercourse is the only thing that can bring it about. If you want a child, you have to get the sperm to meet the egg. You can get pleasure in many ways and intimacy in many ways, although sexual intercourse is a good one, but that is not the final cause of intercourse.

Now if sexual intercourse is random and chaotic and purposeless, then go ahead and do whatever you want with it. If it has a clear purpose though, then we dare not abuse it.

Btw, I could be slow in answering from here on out. I am going to be busy busy busy with class work so if I don't respond for a day or two or more, that is why.

Catholic said...

In response to homosexuality:
18 The wrath of God is indeed being revealed from heaven against every impiety and wickedness of those who suppress the truth by their wickedness.
19 For what can be known about God is evident to them, because God made it evident to them.
20 Ever since the creation of the world, his invisible attributes of eternal power and divinity have been able to be understood and perceived in what he has made. As a result, they have no excuse;
21 for although they knew God they did not accord him glory as God or give him thanks. Instead, they became vain in their reasoning, and their senseless minds were darkened.
22 While claiming to be wise, they became fools
23 and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for the likeness of an image of mortal man or of birds or of four-legged animals or of snakes.
24 Therefore, God handed them over to impurity through the lusts of their hearts
15 for the mutual degradation of their bodies.
25 They exchanged the truth of God for a lie and revered and worshiped the creature rather than the creator, who is blessed forever. Amen.
26 Therefore, God handed them over to degrading passions. Their females exchanged natural relations for unnatural,
27 and the males likewise gave up natural relations with females and burned with lust for one another. Males did shameful things with males and thus received in their own persons the due penalty for their perversity.
28 And since they did not see fit to acknowledge God, God handed them over to their undiscerning mind to do what is improper.
29 They are filled with every form of wickedness, evil, greed, and malice; full of envy, murder, rivalry, treachery, and spite. They are gossips
30 and scandalmongers and they hate God. They are insolent, haughty, boastful, ingenious in their wickedness, and rebellious toward their parents.
31 They are senseless, faithless, heartless, ruthless.
32 Although they know the just decree of God that all who practice such things deserve death, they not only do them but give approval to those who practice them. (Romans 1)

pornstudent said...

Catholic,
This thread is titled "Faith cast in concrete sinks". If you were less concrete in your faith in Paul's opinions, then you wouldn't need to think homosexuals are, "...filled with every form of wickedness, evil, greed, and malice; full of envy, murder, rivalry, treachery, and spite... gossips... scandalmongers... senseless, faithless, heartless, ruthless... and deserving of death."

Bill Van Fleet said...

I am a Humanian Christian. Humanianity implies that all of our religions can be improved. They have both good and bad in them. What we need to do is to enhance the good and shed the bad. The good is that which promotes not only the survival of our species but also the good life for everyone, now and in the future, the good life meaning as much joy, contentment, and appreciation as possible and as little pain, suffering, disability, and early death as possible.

This link for the Charlotte Philosophy Discussion Group (Meetup.com) has more of my thoughts on this.

http://philosophy.meetup.com/240/boards/view/viewthread?thread=4154142&lastpage=yes#

Bill Van Fleet
HomoRationalis.com

Nick said...

Bill. Seeing as you said there's good and bad in all religions, I'd like to know what is bad in Christianity. (Note that I don't mean bad in Christians or some false secondary doctrines but in the essentials.)

Iztok said...

Nick, same thing as it is wrong with any other dogma. It promotes intolerance towards those who think or think differently. It enables people to misuse and abuse others in the name of it.

For me just the mere notion that in Christianity there is a place called Hell where loving God is going to put anyone who doesn't worship him is preposterous. (Even person otherwise would be labeled as a good person and except for not accepting Jesus as his/her personal savior lived a model life.)

Just simple model of:

Mass murderer that at the end recants and accepts Jesus as personal savior gets to heaven while a Buddhist who never harmed a living being goes to hell.

Nick said...

Iztok.

First off, it depends on intolerance. If intolerance simply means thinking that other people are wrong, then you are guilty as well as you think all people that disagree with your worldview are wrong.

If intolerance though means that you don't respect the holder of the view, then I condemn intolerance. I do not believe Muhammad to be a prophet for instance, but I could be a friend with a Muslim no problem while saying his worldview is wrong. I have a good friend who's an atheist who now attends church with me and comes up regularly for some games and DVDs.

Now as for Hell...

First off, your question relies on a moral standard. However, you have yet to give one. Is it unjust for God to punish evil? Is it unjust to reward good? If someone does not want to be with God, is it unjust of God to honor that?

Secondly, what is the purpose of morality? Is morality a means or an end? If you treat it as an end, then you make morality an idol, and God is a jealous God. He won't allow any other gods before him, not even a good thing. Any good thing is wrong when made to be the most important good of all. If God is the greatest good and we treat morality as if it is, then we make morality god instead of God.

Can a mass murderer repent and go to Heaven? Of course! Why should it be any other way? If you don't think that's right, then you tell me what God should do. How long should he have the mass murderer be in purgatory or Hell?

And the Buddhist? If what I'm saying is true, then the Buddhist who has not been seeking truth has been denying God his whole life. Why should God honor one who denies him? Now it is up to God to judge in that case. I am rest assured he will judge rightly.

By the way, you never did get back to me from that thread where you wrote about Secret Mark. I'm still waiting.

Bill Van Fleet said...

Nick, you said

"Bill. Seeing as you said there's good and bad in all religions, I'd like to know what is bad in Christianity."

I really already answered that when I defined "good" in the above post.

I see a lot of good in Christianity, consistent with Humanianity, but there is a certain amount that promotes pain, suffering, disability, and early death. I think we are gradually getting rid of those things, and the increasing tolerance of openness of debate, especially dialogue between Christians and non-Christians, is one part of what is bringing that about.

The best presentation of my ideas is at HomoRationalis.com in the freely downloadable "textbook." This is now available in the files on Charlotte Philosophy Discussion Group also.

But ask yourself whether a particular aspect of Christianity causes joy, contentment, and appreciation, or whether it causes pain, suffering, disability, and/or early death. That's all I mean by what I say.

Bill Van Fleet
HomoRationalis.com

Nick said...

Bill. That doesn't answer the question though. What part of Christianity doesn't do that? I will grant some parts of Christianity cause pain, but then so do some doctor's visits. It does not mean the doctor did wrong. It might mean he did so necessarily. (Major surgery is hardly good in experience but good in its final result.) I have no problem with God allowing pain for a greater good or with having to realize I am a sinner if the end is that I will be holy.

In short, I see all in Christianity as good in the end. There is not a thing I would change about Christianity in its essentials.

Iztok said...

Re Secret Mark. I didn't mention the book itself but the event that it supposedly describes. The point was that many people consider different books when it comes to holy writ. Some Christians consider 66, some 72 different books. Differences go on. It is obvious that at most one can be right. Same as it is obvious that at most one religion can be right on its claims. Most people reject hundreds of other religious gods and books, so why pick and choose?

Nick said...

Iztok. I see you only chose to respond to Secret Mark and nothing else. Alright.

Why not believe in Secret Mark? Let's see.

First off, has anyone read Secret Mark? Do we have a manuscript of it anywhere? Answer: We don't.

Secondly, do we have any references to Secret Mark? Answer: We don't.

Thirdly, do we have reason to believe that Morton Smith, the man who made the claim pulled a hoax on the scholarly community by telling about finding Secret Mark? Answer: We do.

Morton was a pro-homosexual who in making the reference left tell-tale marks behind that hoaxers often do. A word in the text that he claims to have found translates to bald even, which was a trait that Smith was known for.

Why accept the four gospels? Simple. Those are the ones that showed themselves to be reliable, they're the closest to the times, they can be tested archaeologically, (Unlike others, I have read gnostic gospels) they were accepted by the church as a whole, and they had apostolic authority.

Do I pick and choose? You bet I do! I pick and choose that which is true.

And by the way, when it was said the four gospels were in the canon, it was hardly breaking news. It would have been breaking news if it had been other gospels.

Bill Van Fleet said...

Nick, my replies are in bold

Bill. That doesn't answer the question though. What part of Christianity doesn't do that?

Any part that causes needless pain, suffering, disability, and/or early death, for anyone, now and in the future.

I will grant some parts of Christianity cause pain, but then so do some doctor's visits. It does not mean the doctor did wrong. It might mean he did so necessarily. (Major surgery is hardly good in experience but good in its final result.)

I agree that pain and suffering are going to be present as a part of being alive, and that we will never get rid of them, or of disability and early death. What I refer to is having as little of them as possible. That's why we go to doctors.

I have no problem with God allowing pain for a greater good or with having to realize I am a sinner if the end is that I will be holy.

The crucial question is, "What is the total outcome of doing X," with the recognition that it is indeed difficult to predict much of the outcome, especially in the far future.


In short, I see all in Christianity as good in the end. There is not a thing I would change about Christianity in its essentials.

Do you believe that all in Christianity has always been good in the end? Would that include crusades, inquisitions, and witch-burning?

There is a problem with understanding your meaning. Are you assuming that there is only one thing called Christianity? Do you believe there is more than one kind of Christianity? If Christian denominations disagree with each other, which one is the real Christianity? What are the essentials of Christianity? Would everyone agree with you? If one of the denominatons is correct, aren't the odds only 1/N (N = no. of denominations) that a particular one is the correct one? For you, what does Christianity mean? Would there be any Christians who would disagree with you? If one denomination is all good, doesn't that mean that others are not perfect? Could they improve? Why could not your particular Christianity improve like the others?

I believe that anything within a religion that causes individuals to hate themselves, causes them to live in fear, causes them to be isolated from others, causes them to turn against others, causes them to stereotype and denigrate others, or causes them to kill others is probably a bad thing. People have commented, rightly or wrongly, that Christianity has done these things. It is something at least worth thinking about and talking about. And the belief that "I am perfect" or "we are perfect" seems to run counter to experience and I believe interferes with increasing wisdom. I think Jesus' message to a great extent was that we should be more loving and understanding, as opposed to judgemental, hostile, and vengeful. God has been portrayed by some Christians as judgemental rather than understanding, hostile rather than loving, and vengeful rather than forgiving, and God has been portrayed by some as being very narcissistic, irrational, and punitive. These images of God have come from somewhere. Did God give them to us, or did we create these images of God out of our own perception of ourselves?

I think our religions are very important, and my particular religious tradition is Christian. I think we should always assume that we can do even better, until proven otherwise (by study, understanding, practice, and advocacy).

I hope this answers your questions more thoroughly. Why not come to the Charlotte Philosophy Discussion Group (Meetup.com) and share and compare ideas?

Bill Van Fleet
HomoRationalis.com

Nick said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Nick said...

Bill: Any part that causes needless pain, suffering, disability, and/or early death, for anyone, now and in the future.

Me: But is this really the case? Have we not agreed that some pain is good and some suffering is good? Also, are we saying the final good is the absence of pain rather than the attaining of happiness?



Bill: I agree that pain and suffering are going to be present as a part of being alive, and that we will never get rid of them, or of disability and early death. What I refer to is having as little of them as possible. That's why we go to doctors.

Me:But you don't say none. You say as little as possible. We could simply ask if you know that this has been done or not.



Bill: The crucial question is, "What is the total outcome of doing X," with the recognition that it is indeed difficult to predict much of the outcome, especially in the far future.

Me: But in the Christian system, we have God as omniscient. Now you can say you don't think he is, but then you're not dealing with the Christian system. (And I'll be glad to debate any open theists on this point.) If he is and says indeed that "All things work together for good to them that love the Lord." then we can rest assured in that outcome even though our present understanding is lax.



Bill:Do you believe that all in Christianity has always been good in the end? Would that include crusades, inquisitions, and witch-burning?

Me: And this is why I said what I said. It's about Christianity and not the practices often done under the name of Christianity. (Although history has revisioned several of these and made them far far worse than they were.) Were these events the result of Christianity or were they the result of human nature misusing Christianity? I urge you to show me how the teachings of Christ logically lead to an Inquisition.

Bill: There is a problem with understanding your meaning. Are you assuming that there is only one thing called Christianity? Do you believe there is more than one kind of Christianity? If Christian denominations disagree with each other, which one is the real Christianity? What are the essentials of Christianity? Would everyone agree with you? If one of the denominatons is correct, aren't the odds only 1/N (N = no. of denominations) that a particular one is the correct one? For you, what does Christianity mean? Would there be any Christians who would disagree with you? If one denomination is all good, doesn't that mean that others are not perfect? Could they improve? Why could not your particular Christianity improve like the others?

Me: Which Christianity is true is simple. It is Mere Christianity. This is just what C.S. Lewis talked about. I can worship just fine in a church that holds to essentials and those are the beliefs that if they were not true, Christianity could not be true.

If Jesus did not physically rise from the dead, if he is not God incarnate, if there is no Trinity, and if salvation is not by grace through faith, then we do not have Christianity. If, on the other hand, my opinion is off in the Calvinism/Arminian debate, then that is not a big deal.

Bill: I believe that anything within a religion that causes individuals to hate themselves, causes them to live in fear, causes them to be isolated from others, causes them to turn against others, causes them to stereotype and denigrate others, or causes them to kill others is probably a bad thing. People have commented, rightly or wrongly, that Christianity has done these things.

Me: Isn't this a crux of it all? They have commented rightly or wrongly. Either these things were done by Christianity or they weren't. However, the belief system is incapable of acting. It is people that hold the belief system that act and the acts that are condemned are not the logical outworkings of a Christian worldview.

Bill: It is something at least worth thinking about and talking about. And the belief that "I am perfect" or "we are perfect" seems to run counter to experience and I believe interferes with increasing wisdom.

Me: Good thing I never said it then.

Bill: I think Jesus' message to a great extent was that we should be more loving and understanding, as opposed to judgemental, hostile, and vengeful. God has been portrayed by some Christians as judgemental rather than understanding, hostile rather than loving, and vengeful rather than forgiving, and God has been portrayed by some as being very narcissistic, irrational, and punitive. These images of God have come from somewhere. Did God give them to us, or did we create these images of God out of our own perception of ourselves?

Me: Yes. Teachers who often teach love and forgiveness get crucified. Jesus did teach such things, but the crux of his teaching was his identity as ushering in the Kingdom of God.

Now you say that we experience God as vengeful instead of forgiving. Doesn't that imply that there is something to forgive? If there is something to forgive, then there is a reality known as sin.

Bill: I think our religions are very important, and my particular religious tradition is Christian. I think we should always assume that we can do even better, until proven otherwise (by study, understanding, practice, and advocacy).

Me: I have no problem with that provided we are holding to what Christianity really is. While I can disagree with others on secondary issues, we hold hands and walk in unity on the essentials.

Bill: I hope this answers your questions more thoroughly. Why not come to the Charlotte Philosophy Discussion Group (Meetup.com) and share and compare ideas?

Me: I usually work on Sundays. I've signed up, but when I can attend I'm not sure. I've also got a few papers to write for classes anyway.

Iztok said...

Nick: "But in the Christian system, we have God as omniscient. Now you can say you don't think he is, but then you're not dealing with the Christian system."

Can you define omniscient for us? This way we can determine if Jealous is really omniscient or not. Once you've defined the term we can see if this is true or not.

Thanks!

Nick said...

Iztok responds. Let's see. What do we have on a response about Secret Mark and the canon? Nothing. What about my post on the justice of Hell? Nothing. Instead, just another question. Let's see what happens this time.

Omniscience simply means that God knows everything and I believe that includes future propositions as well.

Iztok said...

Nick, I was clear what the intent was on the different books of the Bible. Different Christian sects have different sets of books they consider "The Bible".

Justice of hell: I was clear about this in the past I didn't want to rehash. I don't see how eternal punishment for not believing in god because of lack of evidence and because god is notoriously bad communicator is just.

Omniscience: So if god knows everything (including future) then your life (and everyone else's) is predetermined, right? If it is, then there is no way free will exist.