Friday, April 4, 2008

5 reasons NOT to be religious

Plenty of believers will tell you why you should be as pious as they are. Here's what is rarely said (but should be).

Don't be religious ...

1. If you think it will exempt you from troubles, pain and tragedy.

2. If you think it makes you better than other people.

3. If you think it means your brain can go on permanent vacation.

4. If you think it's all comfort and no demands.

5. If you think it's a way to get God to back your agenda, prejudices or sports team.

Care to add to the list?

63 comments:

Iztok said...

Here are my reasons why I am not religious:

1. Multiple gods and religious traditions

2. Contradictory characteristics in gods

3. Religion is self-contradictory

4. Gods are too similar to believers

5. Gods just don't matter

6. Gods and believers behave immorally

7. Evil in the world

8. Faith is unreliable

9. Life is material not supernatural

10. There is no reason to bother believing

Anonymous said...

Interesting post. Now here are five reasons as to why I'm not religious:

1. I was raised Southern Baptist and was forced to be in the church every time the doors were open. Forcing someone to do something they don't want to do is not really the best way to make it appealing to them. I gave it a chance and found that I don't believe it's true. I never quite understood how God could love all of his creations (people in this instance), but turn right around and damn the people who are not "saved" to an eternity in "hell." What about the native tribes of people in the jungles of the world who have never even heard the word "Jesus" or "God"...how could God let them be damned? Yet they are innocent because they never knew anything about him in the first place?

2. The older, and more educated I got, the more I saw that religion is taken much too literal. All religions originally sprang up from pagan beliefs, and are meant to be a moral suggestion as to how to live your life....not to be taken as a word-for-word, literal history of how everything we know came to be.

3. This kinda goes with #2, science has proven the origins of everything we know and how those things came to be. Again, religion was a man-made creation to teach others how to live in a morally responsible fashion. In other words, science shows in hard concrete evidence that the Earth was here long before the origins according to the book of Genesis. All religions were later creations from the mind of man to give some kind of sense to the world around them.

4. Watching people sit on the front row every Sunday morning while acting "holier than thou", yet on Saturday night they can be found at the local bar or cheating on their wives.... it kinda goes against all of the things religion stands for. We won't even get into all of the scandals involving preachers and other church leaders... Hypocrisy runs rampant in the modern (and probably throughout history) church.

5. Follows the thought of #4: Many people I've encountered who call themselves "Christians" look down on those who may not believe the same way they do. This belittlement, and judgment goes against one of the core teachings of Christianity, "love thy neighbor." Now when you think about it, by looking down on someone who may not believe exactly the way you do and judge them according to that.... you are breaking yet another teaching of the Bible. When I used to sit in Sunday school, they always taught me "judge not, lest ye be judged before the throne of God." Just another hypocrisy of a lot of religious followers these days.

Now, don't get me wrong, I feel that every person has the right to believe what they want and I respect that, but when you force your opinions and beliefs on others... that's stepping over the line. I prefer not to speak about religion to others because I have my own opinions and they have theirs. I will not force any beliefs on my children the way I was forced. I will allow them to choose the path they wish to take. If that's a religious path, then I will be there supporting that, if they choose another path of beliefs I will be there behind them. Religion is a personal, spiritual thing, and when you force someone or make someone feel inferior because they don't believe....you lose that spiritual connection.

I find your post interesting because many of the things you mentioned are exactly what is wrong with the modern church. Hypocrisy has run rampant with it's members and many think that just because you go to church on Sunday morning you are the best person on Earth.

John the Apostate said...

6. If you're looking for easy answers. If it's too easy, you're not looking hard enough. Instead, work at asking better questions.

Anonymous said...

I totally agree with "anonymous"! Been there, done that and lived that Southern Baptist life. Living with truth and understanding comes from inside your own heart and mind...not the hypocrisy that fills most pews every time the church doors are open! Religion, as what is reduced to around here, gives people an excuse to be fake, lie and not take accountability of their actions because they can give all of their "sins" away every Sunday morning. Be real people - only YOU are accountable for the good or not-so-good life you live!

D.J. said...

Good suggestions, Jane.

I wanted to respond to some of the reasons brought up in anon’s (4/4, 12:29 PM) comments…

1. We could discuss the wisdom of forcing you kids to go to church, but ultimately that has no bearing on whether the Christian faith is actually true or not. Some kids are forced to play baseball growing up, but that doesn’t mean that baseball is bad. As to your question of how God can both love and damn people, the answer lies in a full picture of not only God’s love but his justice also. God is perfectly loving, but he is also perfectly just, and all of us have sinned, declaring ourselves enemies of God. To say that God is unloving for exercising his justice is akin to saying that a state judge is a bad person for sentencing murderers. As for the proverbial “man on the island,” Romans 1-3 are written largely to address exactly that concern. This passage teaches that God has made himself known to all humanity through creation so that we can see his beauty and great power. He also has placed his moral law on the hearts of all men, so that all of us know, for instance, that murder is wrong. We don’t need a Bible to know that. Yet, even though we know what is right, what God expects from us, we fail to carry it out. Thus, as Paul concludes, we are without excuse. There is no one righteous, not even one.

2. You claim, “All religions originally sprang up from pagan beliefs.” What evidence do you have that Christianity is derived from pagan beliefs? You also say that religions “are meant to be a moral suggestion as to how to live your life....not to be taken as a word-for-word, literal history of how everything we know came to be.” What evidence do you have that Christianity was intended simply as a moral suggestion? I’m seeing two assertions here that I disagree with, so I’d like to see the evidence that has brought you to these conclusions.

3. Actually, science is not as sufficient as you claim. How did life begin? Science has no answers. Likewise, I would dispute your claim that science has disproven Genesis. Science certainly casts doubt on a particular reading of the Genesis text, but I believe in an earth that is on the order of billions of years old, and I also believe in the inerrancy and truth of the Genesis accounts. Word use and literary genre in Genesis cause me to read it as poetic, rather than narrative (as did St. Augustine in the 4th century, so you can’t accuse me of being revisionist with the text to accommodate modern scientific theory). Science hasn’t trumped Christianity.

4 and 5. These two are similar enough that I thought I’d tackle them together. Yes, there are hypocrites in the church. There are people who do not live out their Christian convictions properly. In fact, I am one of them. You see, every Christian is a hypocrite to one degree or another, because none of us are perfect, yet perfection is what Christ calls us to strive for. This does not mean that the faith is not true, but that we are imperfect sinners saved by grace and by God’s grace being ever more conformed to the image of Christ. This is akin to saying that Richard Nixon’s failures of judgment while in office are an indictment on the Constitution.

No, we shouldn’t force our beliefs on each other. But we shouldn’t react to the opposite extreme of never talking about faith with one another either. Both are harmful extremes that hinder the search for truth.

Soli Deo Gloria

Anonymous said...

People that say they are athiest or say they detest christians or other religious people or even say they detest religion itself, and then go to a religious blog board to say it, brings one phrase to mind.

Moronic stupidity!!!!!!!!

Anonymous said...

Soli,

Your comments are the exact reason why I don't speak about religion with anyone. I admire your enthusiasm on the subject, but let me have a little rebuttal.

1. The mention about my lack of enthusiasm for Christianity due to my parent's relentless need to be in the pews every time the doors are open were merely to give an insight to my upbringing and what the effect of that was on me. The passage you mention about how God made himself known just by creation and that he's on the hearts of men...that's kind of a convenient answer, huh? That's basically saying "Hey, you've never heard of me and you have no clue what I am...but you should, just because...well....you should." That doesn't prove anything in my opinion. Also, your comparison of God to a judge who sentences murderers is not a valid point either. Actually, it has no bearing on the point at hand at all. A person who has committed a crime knows why he's there in court. He may not admit it, but he knows he murdered. It was a physical act that he knows he performed and lived through....it was an experience. Whereas someone who has never heard of God (hasn't had any kind of experience upon which to know that he's wrong) doesn't know he's wrong....so due to that fact, how can he be judged? The answer of "he's judged just because he is and he should know" isn't a good answer.

2. I guess I may not have been clear enough on this one. Look back in history. The origins of all religion, the concept of religion itself...not just Christianity, began as pagan worship of many gods that people saw in nature (the sun, the moon, the ocean, the forest, etc...). Christianity didn't form until much later as a spin-off of the Jewish faith. So by this logic of you must be "saved" and God loves all his creatures, what happened to the people who were living well before the time of the formation of Christianity? On top of that, let's fast forward... What about the people who lived, even after Christianity was formed, in places such as England or the Norwegian countries before the catholic priests brought this new religious idea to them? Even after Christ died, Christianity didn't take hold in northern Europe until the early Middle Ages. Actually it wasn't even adopted as the official religion in places like England until King James decided to switch from Catholicism to become a Protestant. So again, since these people were not "saved," I take it they all went to hell, right? Man, hell sure was crowded up until the 9th century, but I guess they should have known that they were doomed by worshipping the sun and not worshipping what we now know as "God," even though the idea of Christianity hadn't even formed yet.

3. You actually just proved a point I made earlier. The books of the Bible should not be read as a literal concrete "this is what happened" historical account. It is a poetic account from many different sources on what they think happened. To answer the question about religion being a moral basis on which to base your life around... look around...what do you think religion is? It's a belief system that it's followers use to live a "good," moral (whatever "good life" is to them) life. Yes, you are correct, Science does not have all the definitive answers, BUT it has been proven that given the right environment and the right mixture of elements (that were all present millions and millions of years ago) life can spontaneously form when it is given an energy source. It's at a nuclear level...but it is life. So science actually proves more than you would think.

4 and 5. Yes, hypocrisy is rampant, I would even say overly-rampant in church. You said it yourself, that no one is perfect. Given that fact, what gives anyone the right to tell me that I am wrong or that I am a lesser person just because I don't believe what they believe? These people who are forcing their beliefs on others, are the same people breaking every cardinal sin in the book. So basically, if I take what you just said...I'm good to go to heaven now. I was "saved" as a child and I was baptised, so evidently I'm good to go to heaven now even though I don't believe in Christianity now that I'm older and wiser. So why would I ever want to go to church again? I'm good to go forever now.

I don't doubt your personal faith, and as I stated earlier I think everyone has the right to believe what they want. I actually commend you on standing so firm on your beliefs.... it's very admirable. My posting here isn't meant to belittle your beliefs in any way. I'm actually doing what you said, "But we shouldn’t react to the opposite extreme of never talking about faith with one another either. Both are harmful extremes that hinder the search for truth."

To answer why I don't like to speak about religion with people is because we will both talk until we're blue in the face about how I know what's right and you know what's right and we'll never come to a compromise. I do think you should talk about your beliefs to people who are like-minded and believe, but when you force your opinions on others who may not think the same way you do...that's when the line needs to be drawn.

To the "moronic stupidity" comment, no one ever said they detest religion or religious people.... I personally respect everyone's beliefs, and I like everyone I meet until they give me a reason not to like them. Calling someone "moronic" because they happen to have something to say about a topic on a public forum... Well that my friend is the moronic thing to do. It's called free speech, it's your constitutional right.... you should learn more about it.

Iztok said...

"and then go to a religious blog board to say it"

If this would be self standing blog then I would agree. However this blog is associated with Charlotte Observer, this making under its umbrella. Moment this becomes no longer associated with Charlotte newspaper I personally will lose interest.

Iztok said...

"How did life begin? Science has no answers."

That is not quite true. Science has some answers and there is extensive research done in the field of abiogenesis. Some people confuse it with evolution but these are two different things. Evolution theory is way more developed and supported by all the evidence that it has been tested against.

One thing to know is that unlike religion science never claims it has all the answers. Also important is that just because we don't have scientific answers now it doesn't mean that certain question is unanswerable.

Reason why science doesn't this particular answer is because standards for scientific theory (that explains certain behavior) is so high. No answer not only doesn't mean it is unanswerable, but it also doesn't mean that answer is "god did it". Problem with the last is that you just displace one unknown with another. This kind of answer is not a valid scientific answer.

Iztok said...

"The answer of "he's judged just because he is and he should know" isn't a good answer."

This whole thing is called Blaming the victim.

"Many religions punish people for disbelief. However, belief requires faith, and some people, such as atheists, are incapable of faith. Their minds are only receptive to evidence. Therefore, are atheists to be blamed for not believing when “God” provides insufficient evidence?"

Anonymous said...

"Therefore, are atheists to be blamed for not believing when “God” provides insufficient evidence?"

Iztok,

Very good point. It kinda goes back to what I said earlier... What happened to the native peoples of America, or to the people in northern Europe, or in far east Asia....those people had never even heard the word "god" until christian missionaries brought their ideas to them. So according to the "you should just know" theory...those people all went to hell even though they had no idea they were damned to begin with. That's not a very "loving" higher being if he creates them and then sends them all to hell for eternity without giving them the opportunity of "showing them the light."

As with me, I was "saved" as a child so even if what you say is true...I'm good to go according to what my Sunday school teachers said. On the other hand, since I don't believe in any religion, how could I go to hell when I don't believe such a place exists? Religion is simply based on faith...without faith there is no religion.

Atheists are definitely "show me the evidence" people, and I'm sorry but I just haven't been shown sufficient evidence.

Does that make me some evil person who worships the devil and sacrifices virgins and blah blah blah? No, because I don't believe there is a devil either.

Iztok said...

Anonymous, do you mind using a nick or something so we can at least reference it?

Rick Miller said...

All religions are fairy-tales, Jane.

There's no more reason to be religious than there is to believe in Santa Clause and the Easter Bunny.

Anonymous said...

Iztok has identified most of the reasons I am not religious. In particular, pointing out that atheists are "incapable" of belief in the absence of evidence. I honestly believe I am organically predisposed to reject claims unsupported by evidence. (i.e. lack of the so-called "god gene")

To those who take umbrage at atheists participating in this blog I can only speak for myself. I am married to a Christian, live in Hooterville in the bible belt, am constantly trying to understand the intellectual appeal of it--cause I just don't get it-- and am trying hard not to be an "angry atheist" a la Chris Hitchens, but more accepting and respectful.

Ironically, my belief system, (or rather lack thereof) was largely clarified when I, for the first time, really sat down and read and studied the bible at the behest of spouse. What an eye opener. The single most powerful piece of evidence I have seen thus far to debunk christianity.

It is a quantum leap from the belief that "there must be a god creator" to "he or she somehow revealed himself in the bible" yet most of the christians I know simply make this leap without ever considering any of the other possibilities: Zeus, Vishnu, etc.

And the only apologetics which are ever offered up to explain the multitudes of inconsistencies, etc. in the bible are "that's taken out of context" or "that's a translational error" or "that's not to be taken literally"

I have not yet read the latest book by UNC prof and bible scholar Bart Ehrman, "God's Problem" but I understand that he describes his intellectual journey from fundamentalist christian to atheist because of the presence of evil in the world.
Well, that's enough for now.

Bertrand

Searcher said...

1. It demeans our God-given intelligence.

As for pagans vs. Christians:

Before the founding of Egypt, Assur was a pagan agrarian god whom Isis resurrected from the dead after three days. The belief in life after death is evidenced in the classical age of Egypt.

Attis of the Phyrgians was a god born each year on the observance of the winter solstice (around Dec. 23-25) of the Virgin Nana, and was called “the lamb of god”. Each spring he was sacrificed, died and descended into the underworld, to be resurrected after three days.

I can’t remember which mythical Greek, born a man, became a god. But there was at least one.

The Gnostic sect of Simonianism believed that Simon Magus was God in human form. The early Chistian writers-proselytizers treated this and other Simonistic beliefs as heresy; reserving that claim for Jesus.

There have been numerous Jewish men throughout history claiming – or their followers claiming – to be the Messiah, up into the present time.

There’s really nothing new in the world of religion. More modern folks have spent a lot of time crafting and recrafting dogma and doctrine to make the pieces fit better together, as well as doing their darnest to suppress any alternative religions or creative thinking.

Evolving said...

Reason 99: Because it doesn’t answer my questions.

I’m not as much interested in WHO God is, or in developing some sort of relationship with a deity, as I am in WHY or even WHAT.

What’s the purpose of this eternal cycle of birth, reproduction, and death? Why does mankind at least have distractions (college basketball, travel, American Idol) to make our miserable lives sufferable, when lower animals and trees and plants don’t?

Oh, I realize that generations of religious writers have eloquently theorized about the above. But the point is that they still haven’t answered the questions to my satisfaction, and we’ve really not – at least as far as I can tell – gotten any further beyond the cycle than dumb flora and fauna.

Tell me WHY and WHAT. I can figure out WHO from there.

Iztok said...

"What’s the purpose of this eternal cycle of birth, reproduction, and death?"

Why do we need to have purpose?

I think it is very egocentric to think we have some sort of special purpose at the first place. Past the simple role of passing genes down the line which you can hardly consider special purpose compared to any other living species. In biological sense we are selfish. (Which doesn't mean we can't be altruistic as individuals, in fact being altruistic is part of the whole deal as we as species are far more capable serving our selfish nature by being altruistic.)

So if you ask what purpose of individual life is? It is to make sure that our species survives.

raven-moon said...

Hey, d.j.

How is God sending she-bears to tear apart 42 children like a judge sentencing mudrers? Or how about sending his 'prophets' to annihilate whole other cultures, to the lat man, woman, child and animal.

As far as evidence that Christianity developed from pagan religions, it is a basic and accepted fact among anyone who has studies the history of religions, especially ancient Near Eastern and hellenistic cultures. And the influence of European pagan practice is everywhere in Christianity. Put up a Christmas tree last year?

No, I can't lay out proof to you in a few sentences, but you probably already know that. That does not, however, make it any less the case. It's rather like saying you don't support the assertion that there is gravity, and demanding proof. How much time do you have to study the body of knowledge underpinning how we understand gravity? Does that mean gravity is not a valid assertion? No.

evolving said...

Okay. So now I have an answer to WHAT is the purpose to human life?

But WHY is it important that our species survive?

Iztok said...

"But WHY is it important that our species survive?"

Who says it is? Obviously from perspective of our species it is important. From perspective of any other it is pretty much irrelevant. Life would go on without us. Species has gone extinct in the past and are going extinct as we speak yet world is not ending is it?

Sam Harris said...

More than 50% of Americans have a “negative” or “highly negative” view of people who don’t believe in God. 70% think it important for presidential candidates to be “strongly religious.”

“A person who believes that Elvis is still alive is very unlikely to get promoted to a position of great power and responsibility in our society. Neither will a person who believes that the holocaust was a hoax. But people who believe equally irrational things about God and the bible are now running our country. This is genuinely terrifying.”

44% of Americans think Jesus Christ will return in the next 50 years. (22% are “certain” that he will, another 22% think he “probably” will.)

“According to the most common interpretation of biblical prophecy, Jesus will return only after things have gone horribly awry. Imagine the consequences if any significant component of the U.S. government believed that the world was about to end and that its ending would be glorious. The fact that nearly half of the American population apparently believes this should be considered a moral and intellectual emergency.”

evolving said...

Thanks, Iztok, for at least providing some alternative answers.

Somehow I find the Biblical texts and interpretations more comforting. That’s probably why folks rely on it so much.

As Mad Magazine would put it, "What? Me Worry?"

Anonymous said...

Sam,

I believe in the “Rupture”. It’s sort of like the “Rapture”, that religious phenomena that fundamentalists claim will leave the unbelievers among us behind, but the Rupture will be God’s creation of a deep chasm that will take all the world’s religious fanatics with it into the bowels of the earth, leaving rational human beings behind to live happily ever after.

pornstudent said...

Don't be religious if you want to know the truth.

Iztok said...

evolving: "Somehow I find the Biblical texts and interpretations more comforting. "

It is called "Meaning in Life" argument:

Meaning in Life

"This is the idea that, without belief in a god, life would be meaningless. Even if this were true, it would only prove we wanted a god to exist to give meaning to our lives, not that a god actually does exist. But the very fact that atheists can find meaning in their lives without a belief in a god shows that god belief is not necessary."

evolving said...

“But the very fact that atheists can find meaning in their lives without a belief in a god shows that god belief is not necessary."

Okay, so you claim not to believe in a supernatural who controls some aspect of your life – such as that thing called “meaning”. But if an atheist finds meaning, who or what puts it there? Yourself? Family? Friends? The Dog?

If you believe you’ve found it on your lonesome, then you still believe in a god who is able to control some aspect of your life – the great god “Yourself”. And if “meaning” is that precious to an atheist, aren’t you worshipping “meaning”?

If meaning is provided by family or friends, how do you know their belief in an external God isn’t what motivated them to give meaning to your existence? In other words, your “meaning” depends on their God, and you’re not godless.

Here’s an example: Based on your frequent participation in this blog, it obviously provides some sort of meaning to your life. So if it takes God worshippers to give you that meaning, then aren’t you, yourself, dependent on God-by-proxy? Seems to me that it takes God to make an atheist an atheist. How can you be something if there is nothing to compare it to?

I admire you for having great faith in yourself. But according your Reason No. 8, mentioned above for your not being religious, “Faith is unreliable".

pornstudent said...

evolving - "... the great god 'Yourself'. And if 'meaning' is that precious to an atheist, aren’t you worshipping 'meaning'?"

I'm not that great and "meaning" is a pastime.

evolving - "... it takes God to make an atheist an atheist."

It takes someone's belief in God to make an atheist.

evolving - "... faith in yourself."

The faith I have in myself extends only to my experience. I wouldn't call it faith, just experience, eg, the warmth of the sun.

Iztok said...

evolving,

you are mixing terms.

Here is what I understand under terms mentioned:

meaning: Something that is conveyed or signified; sense or significance.

god: A being conceived as the perfect, omnipotent, omniscient originator and ruler of the universe, the principal object of faith and worship in monotheistic religions.

faith: Belief that does not rest on logical proof or material evidence.

So based on this I don't see how your writing makes any sense whatsoever.

pornstudent said...

Iztok,
I think evolving's questions/comments make sense. Use your definitions if you want when responding. It's a common question, even a cliche, "What is the meaning of life?" Religion answers this question for many people. How did you discover your meaning?

Iztok said...

Pornstudent, I did answer to that. evolved just chose to ignore first part of my answer.

It is called "Meaning in Life" argument:

Meaning in Life

"This is the idea that, without belief in a god, life would be meaningless. Even if this were true, it would only prove we wanted a god to exist to give meaning to our lives, not that a god actually does exist. But the very fact that atheists can find meaning in their lives without a belief in a god shows that god belief is not necessary."

evolved said...

Glad you agree. Saying “It takes God to make an atheist an atheist” is the metaphorical equivalent of your “It takes someone’s belief in God to make an atheist”. Put another way, if there are atheists, then there must be a God, because how could someone rationally take the stance there is no God unless they had knowledge there is such a thing? That’s sort of like my neighbor asking how I like his invisible doo-hicky, and me saying I don’t believe in it. How can I state such an idiotic thing unless I’ve accepted that there is a doo-hicky for me not to believe in?

And If there is no God, there’d still be no atheists, because then they’d not have the slightest idea of just what it is they’re not supposed to believe in. One takes a position, as you say, based on “experience”. Or maybe you were conceived and raised in a vacuum and emerged to state you are an atheist?

Speaking of terms or definitions, you say “meaning” is “Something that is conveyed or signified”. Well, that includes faith, because “Faith” certainly is conveyed or signified. I’ve seen that right here in this blog. So even atheists have faith! Don’t worry. I’m not going to rat you out to the Atheist Police!

But it’s your definition of god that explains why atheists don’t believe in a deity. If my God were to match the description you gave above, I wouldn’t want to believe, either.

pornstudent said...

Iztok,

I agree that "god belief is not necessary" to have a meaning to life. A meaning that I have for my life has more meaning to me than what someone else wants that meaning to be.

Don't be religious if you want to decide for yourself what is meaningful.

pornstudent said...

evolved,
The belief in God isn't the same thing as the existence of God. I can understand the concept of God (or my neighbor's invisible doo-hicky) without there actually being God (or a doo-hicky).

evolved said...

If, as you claim, you understand the concept of a doo-hicky (God), then you’re admitting there is a doo-hicky (God). Otherwise how would you know what the concept is? My belief in my God or gods most certainly affirms the existence of my God or gods. Just because you can’t see the wind doesn’t mean it’s not there.

Apparently the Doo-Hicky-Which-Doesn’t-Exist is real enough to you that you feel it necessary to state it doesn’t exist, sort of a self-assurance that you are on the right track. Let’s hope for your sake you’re right!

Just what is the meaning in life to which you refer that doesn’t involve “god belief”?

You say “Don't be religious if you want to decide for yourself what is meaningful”. I agree in part. Organized religion can be stifling. They’ve got the secret handshake (baptism or circumcision), the rules (dogma) which you’re expected to agree with wholeheartedly on pain of getting kicked out of the club and going straight to Hell (if you believe in it), and life-time membership whether you want it or not. But Isn’t “meaningful” subjective? Isn’t it something that doesn’t rest on logical proof or material evidence? When you start talking “meaningful”, seems to me you’re talking religion, whether it be your own or someone else’s club.

Iztok said...

Evolved, you make no sense.

Do you understand the concept of Easter Bunny?

Do you understand the concept of Santa?

Do you understand the concept of Mount Olympus?

Do you understand the concept of Allah?

Do you understand the concept of Zeus?

I bet you that you do. It still doesn't make any of the above real.

If you still don't get it.

Do you understand the concept of science fiction?

You do? Does it make science fiction any more real?

Iztok said...

"If my God were to match the description you gave above, I wouldn’t want to believe, either."

Huh? Do you mean the following definition: "A being conceived as the perfect, omnipotent, omniscient originator and ruler of the universe, the principal object of faith and worship in monotheistic religions."

Care to explain which part of the above definition doesn't match your deity? Is your deity not perfect? Is it not omnipotent? Is it not omniscient? Is it not originator and ruler of the universe? Is it not principal object of faith and worship?

pornstudent said...

evolved - "My belief in my God or gods most certainly affirms the existence of my God or gods."

I disagree.

evolved - "When you start talking 'meaningful', seems to me you’re talking religion..."

What we think is meaningful doesn't need to be a religion, eg, parents raising children.

Don't be religious if you want a straightforward view of reality.

D.J. said...

A few issues with the case being made for Christianity being a derivative of pagan religion…

Searcher said…
“Before the founding of Egypt, Assur was a pagan agrarian god whom Isis resurrected from the dead after three days. The belief in life after death is evidenced in the classical age of Egypt.”

I’m not familiar with this account, and I’ve been unable to find the story. Perhaps you could point me in the right direction? I’m aware of Isis and Osiris, but not of Assur.

Searcher said…
“Attis of the Phyrgians was a god born each year on the observance of the winter solstice (around Dec. 23-25) of the Virgin Nana, and was called “the lamb of god”. Each spring he was sacrificed, died and descended into the underworld, to be resurrected after three days.”

First off, the first records we have of any kind of the Attis narrative are from the writings of the Greek historian Herodotus, over 400 years after the death of Christ, so you’ve got a long way to go to demonstrate that the Christ narrative is a derivative of the Attis myth. However, that aside, the parallel is still not quite as neat as you would have us believe. First, as Jesus was not actually born on December 25th, the winter solstice similarity really means nothing. Virgin birth? Really? I challenge anyone to seriously read the story of Attis’ birth and say, “Wow, that’s just like Jesus!” We’ve got an account of Zeus impregnating a mountain, which spawns an androgynous creature named Agdistis, who gets drugged by Dionysius and has his, um, masculinity, yanked off in a prank, which causes a pomegranate (or almond in some accounts) tree to grow, after which Nana comes and picks a pomegranate, sets it in her lap, it disappears, and viola, she’s pregnant with Attis. See, just like Jesus! Now, his resurrection story also bears a great similarity to Jesus’. He killed himself (not ‘was sacrificed’) out of jealous anger at a wedding, and depending on the account you use, he was ‘resurrected’ by a playful Zeus as either a twitching, hairy corpse or a pine tree. Obviously, the Jesus story was just made up by a bunch of Christians who found this strikingly similar tale 400 years later. As for being called the ‘lamb of god,’ I’d like to see evidence for this one. Keep in mind, all of this didn’t show up on the scene until 400 years after Christ walked the earth.

Searcher said…
“I can’t remember which mythical Greek, born a man, became a god. But there was at least one.”

Of course, even if you could remember, this has absolutely no correlation to Jesus, since he was not born a man and then became a god. Scripture teaches that he was born the God-man - fully divine and fully human from birth. This is grasping at straws.

Searcher said…
“The Gnostic sect of Simonianism believed that Simon Magus was God in human form. The early Chistian writers-proselytizers treated this and other Simonistic beliefs as heresy; reserving that claim for Jesus.”

Of course, the Gnostics also postdated Christianity. In fact, as you say, it was a heretical offshoot of the Christian faith, so I don’t see why you bring it up as evidence of Christianity’s “pagan roots.” The only accounts we have of this veneration of Simon comes from the 2nd century Christians who wrote against it as well as a few pseudopigraphal Gnostic works from the second century – in other words, well after the New Testament corpus was written (AD 65-90).

Searcher said…
“There have been numerous Jewish men throughout history claiming – or their followers claiming – to be the Messiah, up into the present time.”

Yep. How many actually fulfilled the OT prophecies concerning the messiah?

raven-moon said…
“As far as evidence that Christianity developed from pagan religions, it is a basic and accepted fact among anyone who has studies the history of religions, especially ancient Near Eastern and hellenistic cultures. And the influence of European pagan practice is everywhere in Christianity. Put up a Christmas tree last year?”

Well, I have extensively studied ANE and Hellenistic culture, and I strongly disagree. If the evidence presented by Searcher is all you’ve got, then your “basic and accepted fact” is quite shaky. And yes, the influence of European paganism is quite rampant in modern American Christianity. For example, I don’t celebrate Easter (see: Ishtar) with all its bunnies and chicks and eggs borrowed from pagan fertility festivals, I celebrate Resurrection Day, on which Christ bodily came forth from the grave. The roots of the Christmas tree are actually quite mixed. Trees had a great religious significance in early Germanic tribes. However, on his missionary journey to the Germanic peoples, Boniface walked into the center of town at Geismar and cut down “Thor’s Oak.” At the foot of the felled tree, a fir tree was growing. Pointing to the tree, Bonifice told the people, “This humble tree's wood is used to build your homes: let Christ be at the centre of your households. Its leaves remain evergreen in the darkest days: let Christ be your constant light. Its boughs reach out to embrace and its top points to heaven: let Christ be your Comfort and Guide.” At any rate, all of these practices crept in after Christian worship had been around the block for hundreds of years, so one can hardly say that they influenced the formulation of Christian doctrine.

I’ve got no problem with people expressing their disbelief in Christianity, but let’s not revise history to do so.

Soli Deo Gloria

Anonymous said...

Look at St. Matthewss in Ballantyne where PREISTS are molesting People. I grew up in Catholic Church and was made to go every morning . Half the time I was asleep in the pew and sister magnacartius would step in and slap our faces awake. Sometimes Students got thrown in the isles of the church begging for mercy ; It siounds like the TALIBAN Religion .

Anonymous said...

If you dont co operate in Religions they excommunictae you and spread rumors about you; This happened to me in every Religion I joined. They say He,s on drugs , he,s crazy, he's screwing whores where that part was true and I can explain. People go to Church to meet a guy or girl what is the church the dating game; Sometimes I know of Churches who set you up. They fix you up with a girl and see if you try to get in her pants and VOILA, They have you. You walk into to Church and ushers nab you on both sides ad march you to the High Priest and VOILA, He reduces you in front of the pulpit.

Anonymous said...

The Catholic Church loves to gamble I have nothing against that , but Many like to Gamble in the or around the Church . It says in the Bible " Jesus told them to get off the front stairs and take it down the street" POKER was invented by the Persians 5000 years before CHRIST so Poker was being played when JESUS got angry. 'Give Ceasar whats Ceasars' Jesus didnt say GAMBLE no more , just dont mix Religion with business.

Anonymous said...

Churches take in money like a business they have bills like we all do; Churches exapand their buildings so they can do more I understand this, but Churches own Textile Business and other things I can accept this but buying Real estate i get really scared with no intention to build. I would love to see a church buy a business and employ People Jesus would be for this.

Anonymous said...

Mohammed was a great warrior and Businessman; The ISLAMIC Religion will not put money in the bank its a sin; They have to invest it so other may have a job ; This is a good religion. Mohammed was a very wealthy Man.

evolving said...

I’m not talking about the Easter Bunny or Santa. I’m talking about something real. The Easter Bunny has yet to move me, bring hope to me, inspire me. Real things do that. What’s obvious is that you don’t understand, or don’t want to understand, that concept.

What’s comical is that you rant and rave daily in this blog because you haven’t yet found a god, and you carry on some sort of perverse form of proselytizing to sway other folks away from finding a god.

You’ve got a ministry of your own! Sounds to me the campaign is centered around the creed that “If Iztok ain’t happy, ain’t nobody gonna be happy!”

Maybe your problem is not so much not believing in a god or gods as it is not finding a god or gods to believe in.

And regarding that definition of god you provided. Who says it has to perfectly match my concept of God in order for my God to be valid? You? Aren’t you the one who proclaims there is no God? So please explain to us how you can define something that isn’t, or at least borrow a definition for something that doesn’t exist for you.

Don said...

I’ve nothing against any religion, and don’t consider myself a “member” of any, but of the three major ones – Judaism, Christianity and Islam – the one that makes the most sense is Islam. It’s a shame that it has extremists, but so do all religions.

Islam strikes me as streamlined. Christianity has had to come up with some of the most complicated (and unbelievable) theories, interpretations and dogma. Let’s see, God so loved the world that he arranged for himself to be born of a Virgin (how else to get everyone’s attention) and his human father just “happened” to be of the same lineage as King David (how else to make the Messianic prophecies come “true”). He had brothers and sisters, yet was God and separate from them. He became a great rabbi (that I can believe), but got into trouble with his own people and the Romans, and so was executed. But then that was God’s plan all along. And because he was God, he rose from the dead after three (not four or five) days, walked around, then disappeared for, oh 2,000 years or so. And if we believe in Jesus – but not in anyone or anything else – we, too, will never die but will live happily after after.

Wow! Sign me up! Yep, I believe that’s absolutely true. I don’t want to die!

Seriously, what’s wrong with just believing in God, period? Why all this convoluted dogma about Father, Son, Holy Ghost, the Virgin Mary, the seven dwarfs and the three little pigs?

I think Searcher’s research shows that it’s obvious the founders of Christianity thought the best way to market it was to borrow from all the previous complicated, hard-to-believe, “pagan” theories.

Iztok said...

"My belief in my God or gods most certainly affirms the existence of my God or gods."

“Revelations” of One’s Own (Personal Testimony, Feelings, “Open Heart”)

"This is when you are personally having the revelation or feeling that a god exists. Though you may be sincere, and even if a god really does exist, a feeling is not proof, either for you or for someone else. It will do no good to ask atheists to “open our hearts and accept Jesus” (or any other deity). If we were to set aside our skepticism, we might indeed have an inspirational experience. But this would be an emotional experience and we’d have no way to verify if a god was really speaking to us or if we were just hallucinating. Many atheists have stories of how wonderful it felt to lose their belief in gods. As with religion, this is not proof that atheism is true."

Iztok said...

"How many actually fulfilled the OT prophecies concerning the messiah?"

Holy Books
"Just because something is written down does not make it true. This goes for the Bible, the Qur’an, and any other holy book. It is circular reasoning to try to prove the god of a holy book exists by using the holy book itself as “evidence.” People who believe the holy book of one religion usually disbelieve the holy books of other religions."

Iztok said...

I’m not talking about the Easter Bunny or Santa. I’m talking about something real."

Evolved, you are coming with a claim and when I use the same argument as you about Easter Bunny or Santa you change the meaning of definition you came up with yourself? I see it all the time with religious people. They claim they take things on faith and claim it is a virtue. But this is not something they would use for other aspects of their life. They apply different standards when it comes to real things vs. their deity. If they would apply the same standards they would realize how wrong they are. All I am pointing to you is that you are using different standards.

"And regarding that definition of god you provided. Who says it has to perfectly match my concept of God in order for my God to be valid? You? Aren’t you the one who proclaims there is no God? So please explain to us how you can define something that isn’t, or at least borrow a definition for something that doesn’t exist for you."

WTF? Again twisting and turning to try to get out of answering. I clearly asked you which part of definition of god I wrote does not fit your particular god. You are unable to write that which means you actually agree that definition is valid.

So let's try once again, which part of the following definition is false when it comes to your god: "A being conceived as the perfect, omnipotent, omniscient originator and ruler of the universe, the principal object of faith and worship in monotheistic religions."

Can you answer this? I am actually trying to see what your definition of your god is, not impose mine. I am trying to figure out which part of the above definition doesn't match god you believe in and you are unable to answer that?

D.J. said...

Don said…
“I think Searcher’s research shows that it’s obvious the founders of Christianity thought the best way to market it was to borrow from all the previous complicated, hard-to-believe, “pagan” theories.”

If Searcher’s research does indeed show that this fact is obvious, then please interact with my critiques of that research. If you’re going to make a historical claim, you should be ready to back it up.
Iztok said…
"Just because something is written down does not make it true. This goes for the Bible, the Qur’an, and any other holy book. It is circular reasoning to try to prove the god of a holy book exists by using the holy book itself as “evidence.”

Take another look at my claim – I responded to the claim that there have been several claims of Jewish messiahship by saying that Jesus was unique in his fulfillment of messianic prophecy. These fulfillments are not recorded in the same book, historically speaking. Several prophecies, for instance, were recorded in the book of Isaiah, written over 600 years before Christ walked the earth. The book of Mark, one of the most textually attested and reliable documents in all of antiquity, records Jesus fulfilling several of these prophecies. How is that circular reasoning? We are evaluating two different historical sources.

Rather than simply taking a holy book at its word, I believe that we should evaluate a holy book for its historical reliability and textual integrity. The New Testament passes these tests better than any other document of antiquity by an exponential factor.

Soli Deo Gloria

Iztok said...

"The book of Mark, one of the most textually attested and reliable documents in all of antiquity, records Jesus fulfilling several of these prophecies. How is that circular reasoning?"

Issue is that one has to have verification for all the fulfillings. Each one is a separate issue that has to be proven. Most of them have no proof outside of the holy book.


"Rather than simply taking a holy book at its word, I believe that we should evaluate a holy book for its historical reliability and textual integrity."

The Argument from Historical Settings
This argument states that because historical people and places are mentioned in ancient stories, that everything else about those stories, including descriptions of supernatural events, must be true. By this argument, everything written in the Iliad, including the intervention of the ancient Greek gods, must be true.

D.J. said...

Iztok said...
"By this argument, everything written in the Iliad, including the intervention of the ancient Greek gods, must be true."

Am I saying that the fact that events were recorded makes them necessarily true? No. I am saying that the way said events are recorded should play a factor in how seriously we take certain claims. For instance, Homer's writings are the second most textually reliable in all of antiquity, with about 640 copies extant allowing for a 95% reconstruction of the original through textual criticism. The most textually reliable? The New Testament, with over 14,000 ancient manuscripts still extant, some dating to within mere decades of the originals. This allows for a reconstruction rate of 99.5% through textual criticism - absolutely unparalleled in ancient literature. The fact that these claims are so well preserved and that some are attested by early historians such as Josephus and Tacitus should cause us to give the claims of the manuscripts careful consideration.

Soli Deo Gloria

Iztok said...

"The fact that these claims are so well preserved and that some are attested by early historians such as Josephus and Tacitus should cause us to give the claims of the manuscripts careful consideration."

It is known that many ancient books were destroyed on purpose.

Josephus is highly questionable source (considering more then likely later forgery).

Tacitus seems to only repeat what Christians told him, not independent source.

Needless to point out that neither Josephus (born 37 CE) nor Tacitus (born 55 CE) were alive at the time Jesus supposedly lived. At best they would have recorded a hearsay.

Do you have any Jesus contemporary independent historian that actually could witness mentioned fulfillments (at least some of them?) first hand? After all if this was so extraordinary event we would expect extraordinary evidence, right?

D.J. said...

Iztok said...
"Needless to point out that neither Josephus (born 37 CE) nor Tacitus (born 55 CE) were alive at the time Jesus supposedly lived. At best they would have recorded a hearsay."

You do realize that by the standards you are setting up, you will have to throw out all of ancient history? Are you ready to question whether Plato and Aristotle actually existed, or whether they came up with the works accredited to them? If you discredit the events of the NT as historically unreliable, they go too. Are you consistent on that front?

Soli Deo Gloria

Don said...

D.J. – The fact that so much of your own research is based on someone else’s prior “research” is proof enough for me that your theology borrows from someone else’s theology. That translates into “Christianity Borrows”.

Either Searcher’s list represented his original thoughts, which I doubt, or he found those claims somewhere. If the latter, who cares if he didn’t make reference notes in the margin? Is this blog a research convention or an exchange of ideas?

The point is that I found his comments thought-provoking. They make a lot of sense. I think Christianity incorporated a lot of pagan practices. I’ll think about his statements, look them up ON MY OWN, and draw my own conclusions. Because if I rely on your “research”, I know I won’t be getting an original, unbiased opinion.

Iztok said...

"Are you ready to question whether Plato and Aristotle actually existed, or whether they came up with the works accredited to them?"

Are any of the works of Plato and Aristotle literally used by people as a guide to every facet of their lives... including some people who want to use it as a basis for government? Plato lived 427 BCE - 347 BCE and Aristotle 384 BCE – 322 BCE. Even if Plato or Aristotle didn't really exist it wouldn't dramatically change our understanding of the universe around us today, would it? So for practical use of this debate we can discard this argument.

So let's say that Plato and Aristotle didn't exist, how would this change modern world and science? It wouldn't. Now let's say that Jesus didn't exist, what is left out of Christianity? Nothing.

evolving said...

Iztok said: “A feeling is not proof, either for you or for someone else.”

What a hoot! Iztok, for someone who hollers foul every time someone else quotes a scripture or references some book, here you go again, trying to define me, my God and everything else based on the Atheist’s Bible, or from wherever you pulled that quote. There are billions on this planet who have feelings of faith in a god or gods. But I guess that’s not enough proof for you.

No one is trying to convert you, especially not me. I respect that you don’t believe, and I’ll defend to my death your right to feel that way. (But if that’s your feeling – and you say a feeling is not proof – doesn’t that mean you’re wrong to “feel” that way about there being no god?)

It's amusing that you make such a big deal of feeling you have to attempt to refute each and every statement made by anyone of faith in this blog. Are they a threat to you? How? I’ll bet you feel you have to respond to this posting too. Got you last!

Iztok said...

Evolved, you still didn't answer the question about YOUR definition of YOUR god. I've asked you where the definition I offered is wrong in regards to YOUR god and you failed to answer or admit that the definition I offered is correct. So is the definition I offered wrong? Tell me where.

"There are billions on this planet who have feelings of faith in a god or gods."

This is argument called:

Most People Believe in God

It’s true that throughout history, most people have believed in at least one god. But mere popularity doesn’t make something true. (Most people used to mistakenly believe that the Earth was the center of the universe.) The number of atheists in the world is currently increasing. We can imagine a day when most people are atheists. (In fact, most of the top scientists in the U.S. already are atheists.) However, as with religion, the popularity of atheism will not be able to be used as proof of its truth. Even today, it is probable that in England and France atheists outnumber theists. Does this mean that God exists everywhere except in those two countries?

D.J. said...

Don said…
“The point is that I found his comments thought-provoking. They make a lot of sense. I think Christianity incorporated a lot of pagan practices. I’ll think about his statements, look them up ON MY OWN, and draw my own conclusions. Because if I rely on your “research”, I know I won’t be getting an original, unbiased opinion.”

Of course Searcher’s statements were thought provoking – my point is simply that it should provoke us (like any claim) to see if it is an accurate representation of reality. Do his comments make sense? Do they accurately represent the historical record? I pointed out several historical holes in the argument that Searcher made for Christianity borrowing key doctrines from pagan religions. If my conclusions are in error, let me know, I’ll be more than happy to retract. I would encourage you to look these up on your own, however, don’t think that I (and other Christians) are the only ones with bias. Nobody is unbiased, we all are driven by the presuppositions through which we see the world. I’m not concerned with whether or not my statements are biased, I’m concerned with whether or not they’re true.

Soli Deo Gloria

D.J. said...

Iztok said...
"Plato lived 427 BCE - 347 BCE and Aristotle 384 BCE – 322 BCE. Even if Plato or Aristotle didn't really exist it wouldn't dramatically change our understanding of the universe around us today, would it? So for practical use of this debate we can discard this argument."

The importance of Plato and Aristotle's teachings is irrelevant here. My point was simply this - are you willing to hold all of ancient history to the same standard you demand of the Bible? If you deny the NT as historically unverifiable for the reasons you claimed earlier (lack of independent contemporary verification, gap of several decades before corroborating historical records), then to be intellectually consistent you must deny Plato, Aristotle, Socrates, and the rest of recorded ancient history. Are you willing to do this?

Soli Deo Gloria

Iztok said...

DJ, I believe I've answered your point when I wrote:

"So let's say that Plato and Aristotle didn't exist, how would this change modern world and science? It wouldn't. Now let's say that Jesus didn't exist, what is left out of Christianity? Nothing."

Or in other words, the non existence of what Plato, Aristotle etc. wrote or didn't has little relevance on today. So honestly it is not that important. If their writings would be as important as NT is to you I would require the same high standard. What they did wasn't anything extraordinary, hence no extraordinary evidence is needed. Their importance to today's life is proportional to their evidence of existence. On the other hand, your importance of NT is way disproportionate to evidence to support its claims.

I need to emphasize again that each claim has to be examined on its own merit.

Anonymous said...

I see the "blind and deaf" had a field day with this topic. Hopefully their ears and eyes will be opened before it's too late.

pornstudent said...

"... before it's too late." Sounds like a threat. If love and guilt don't entice us to surrender, the Christians would have us be afraid.

Don't be religious if you want to be free.

Iztok said...

From today's Observer: ""Jesus kept his hands on those babies," said their aunt, Doris Moore, Sunday night. "God has his reasons.""

http://www.charlotte.com/109/story/580057.html

Or in other words. "God kills three, Jesus saves two in a car accident."