Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Snipers in the sanctuary

In Tennessee, a man reportedly enraged by the liberal views of a Unitarian Universalist church pulls out a shotgun during a children's performance of "Annie" and opens fire.

I assume we can all agree that this is not the proper way to protest church policy.

But while few disgruntled critics resort to gunfire (thank God), sniping is one of the most popular sports in any house of worship. Don't believe me? Ask the clergy. Nothing is too small or too sacred to avoid derision by those who confuse their opinions with God's.

The result, too often, is a church torn by dissent whose leaders are paralyzed by constant criticism. This is not exactly a recipe for healthy growth.

Can believers disagree -- even on core issues -- but continue to worship together in loving fellowship? I think it's possible, though not easy.

It requires a willingness to honor the motivations and intent of those with whom you disagree, rather than demonizing them as the "enemy." It requires a willingness to admit the possibility, however slight, that you might be wrong. It requires a willingness to seek truth together rather than run away to the shelter of people who think exactly the way you do.

It requires a willingness both to tell the truth and to listen for the truth.

Perhaps that's not as instantly satisfying as firing off a few shots or a few ugly remarks, but it leaves a lot less blood on the floor.

94 comments:

Pete said...

I'm happier when I'm not judging others. And Jesus has told us that we shouldn't judge. So I try really hard not to. Other verses that come to mind are, "Take the log from your own eye before worrying about the splinter in someone else's." and "Give to Caesar what belongs to Caesar."

There are many Christians who disagree with me. I listen to them, but I want to be true to what I think Jesus would say.

There are so many Churches to go to. If we don't agree with one to the point it interferes with our relationship with God or we just don't get much out of it, try another. I know many will disagree with me, but I think it's OK to not go to any church.

The Heretic said...

I spent part of my youth in the North Carolina mountains. It amazed me how many small churches there were. Seemed like one every 5 miles. As I got older it dawned on me why that was. Often, whenever a minister or elder took a stand on a controversial belief, there would always be dissenters and then a schism. There was no violence, other than the expected shouting match. But rather than work together in loving fellowship, one group stayed. The other built their own church 5 miles down the road. Might have been expensive and wasteful, but it sure make it harder for a nut set on violence to pick an appropriate target.

At first I thought these all-too-frequent splits weakened “The Church” at large. But I don’t think any major Western religion has escaped them. They just build their churches, mosques or synagogues more than 5 miles apart so it’s not quite as apparent.

The issues that provoke one to murder church members today – such as homosexuality, abortion, prayer in schools - are just as volatile as the ones that arose in the previous 2000 years and for which church leaders took controversial stands – papal authority, clergy abuses, adult baptism, total immersion, the nature of Christ, interpretation of the scriptures, etc. Church members were no safer then than now. And back then you could probably count on entire denominations and movements being wiped out, and not by a lone outsider, but by your own Christian “kin”.

So we’ve progressed! The moral: There’s safety in having not so many concentrated numbers, and in not mixing secular issues with sectarian ones. Let government deal with that.

Anonymous said...

The problem with most religions is that they require their faithful to "spread the word" of their believed one true path, and many times that prosthletyzing becomes demoninzing those that are not having the same beliefs. These practices are often required to enter politics and society to do their work, which creates an ever more divisive society, and sadly, creates acts of violence like the one yesterday.

While belief in a higher power may be inherent in most, organized religion is a man-made concept, and divides us more than brings us together.

Anonymous said...

With all due respect, I feel this blog post is not really appropriate.

The larger point made is a good one, as are the previous replies to it above. I realize in this media-heavy world, where attention gets pulled elsewhere constantly, perhaps it seemed like a good opportunity to seize on the event as a parable. But to use clever humor to make that point about 48 hours later just doesn't sit well with me, and I'm guessing some other readers might feel that way too.

Besides that, it should be made clear that the gunman was not a member himself of that (or any) church, and had no ties to it (except, we are told, that his ex-wife attended years before, and that the church's views had gotten some press). I didn't know much at all about the Unitarian Universalist Church till hearing about this shooting, but my guess is that if he had shown any [healthy] interest in it himself he would have been warmly welcomed. Maybe there are mental-health issues that would've been beyond the scope of other church members to help with, but perhaps he'd still have felt a connection to other members there --- real people with real faces and real lives --- that would've influenced him such that Sunday morning's event would have never happened. Let's not confuse these shooting incidents, which are usually the result of mentally-ill individuals who are alienated for various reasons, with your valid, but different, point about believers allowing differences in doctrine to hurt their congregation.

Gamecock said...

Pete

Totally agree.

more later

Gamecock said...

Heretic

Don't you think the real "issue" in the incident Jane describes is more likely to be biological rather than theological, given his lone status? Just like most all of the so-called fundamentalist Christian violent incidents the past 30 years, all of which can be counted on one hand.

Unlike radical Islam whose incidents and victims number in the hundreds of thousands as policy.

Hence, my revulsion at any suggestion of moral equivalence or danger from one or the other today or even if one includes the totality of incidents 500 years ago.

more later

Gamecock said...

anon

Was it good for the inventor of the wheel to spread the news?

see my point

Lots of the non-religious have spread their news and the result was 5000 years of suffering.

The spreading of Christ's good news has been to reduce same.

Gamecock said...

at 11:41 anon makes good points

Gamecock said...

Protesting Church Policy

I would agree that the quality of "Annie" performances should not be a "core" issue justifying schism, much less murder.

However, I would say that mosques that advocate and carry out the killing of innocent "infidels" be forced to cease and desist by force.

Now, to the second column in the post. (smile)

I was best friends with my pastor of many years despite the age difference. He used to say that after the sermon and then main lunch course they had the pastor for dessert!

So, in general, I agree.

However, you use the word "core", when most of the divisions today within Christian denominations are not core. I would say that most all Christians agree on the creedal core and that most denominations are the result of mostly, but not all, non-core issues, even the Protestant-Catholic divide.

Most divisions of the past 40 years have been over issues that, while not core theologically, are very important secondary issues that make it very difficult to carry out a consistent message to the lost.

Of course, I come to this with a point of view, having been a Christian since age 13, but also having had an epiphany at age 40 with regard to some of the issues that divide churches.

The issues would be abortion, gay issues and women's role in the church.

more later

The Heretic said...

Gamecock,

Good questions. If by “biological“ you mean that the reason the man targeted that church was not because of its liberal theology, but because he inherently hated anything different from himself or his viewpoint (blacks, gays, women, “liberals”), you could be right. The news reports that delve into his reasons seem to back you. His wife once was a member of that particular congregation. My guess is that if she hadn’t been, he might just as well have targeted a liberal politician, or one he perceived to meet his definition.

The incident caused me to read about the Unitarian Universalist Church, and frankly I’m impressed. I may have finally found a religion where I fit. I’ve always considered Christ to be a great rabbi, but not necessarily divine. I’ve had trouble with a monotheistic religion getting into this God-in-three-persons thing. I don’t believe that God is 100% immanent and 0% transcendental, as apparently do many fundamentalist Christians.

I respect the Bible, but don’t believe it’s infallible or the only source of guidance and inspiration. Neither does UUC. I believe you and I are just as inspired as the men who wrote and/or edited those scriptures. The UUC supposedly has many members who could be classified as Deists. Even some who claim to be atheists! (Iztok would be welcome). UUC seems to be a denomination that doesn’t claim to have all the answers. It’s looking for them, and all are welcome to join that ever-evolving search.

Anyway, I can see where some would classify these beliefs as “liberal”, along with the UCC's support for gays, women’s rights, civil rights, etc. To me they are better classified as “progressive”. But I think their right to hold those beliefs should be respected and protected.

As regards Jane’s comment about the other type of sniping that occurs in all churches, it sounds to me that if any Christian denomination has the willingness to stick together to seek the truth rather than seek shelter among those who think the same, it is the Unitarian Universalist Church. God bless them.

Gamecock said...

Jane, now I want to address:

a) healthy growth;
b) Worship in loving fellowship; and
c) motivations, intent, enemy, and what lies between like minds and enemies

all in the context of core beliefs.

Jane, have you ever left a church over doctrinal beliefs?

I haven't, despite some pretty strong differences over "near core" beliefs in many eyes in one church.

The issues was the ordination of a woman as an associate pastor and tongues.

more later

Gamecock said...

Good points about the Unitarian church. While I don't share its "absence" of beliefs, I respect it. I especially respect it after learning that John Adams was a member. Adams was a believer in God and in judeo-christian principles and morals as essential to a free civilized society.

Gamecock said...

Now, Jane, as to

a) healthy growth;
b) Worship in loving fellowship; and
c) motivations, intent, enemy, and what lies between like minds and enemies

all in the context of core beliefs, and my experience and choices at a non-denominational church in ATL, after never moving my letter from my Southern Baptist home church in SC of 40 years.

I did attend other denominations before ATL as my wife was catholic and I attended Lutheran and Presbyterian with friends for long periods.

But, let me just say that, after education in Methodist colleges and much religious study, I do think that the doctrine of Southern Baptists is most correct in the sense of following the Bible. I agree with Barth and Bonhoeffer.

But, I am a Christian first, a Mere Christianity, creedal Christian. The Core is in the creeds, and part of the core is evangelism.

Secondary issues also matter though, and I think, given flawed, fallen humans, that given the mission to Go ye, it is best that we find a denomination we are comfortable in so as not to inhibit the mission by re-fighting old wars with sniping.

Adrian DeVore said...

There was no excuse to enter a church and start shooting people because of different viewpoints.

This tragedy is close to me since I was a practicing Unitarian Universalist for almost ten years before leaving.

As a former UU, I have nothing but full appreciation for the Unitarian Universalist Church because I had complete freedom to respect multiple religions without bias.

My prayers are with the Tennessee Valley UU Church as they start healing process.

Gamecock said...

Great post Adrian

Where are you worshipping now?

Iztok said...

Jesus Christ—who as it turns out, was born of a virgin, cheated death, and rose bodily into the heavens—can now be eaten in the form of a cracker. A few Latin words spoken over your favorite Burgundy, and you can drink his blood as well.

Is there any doubt that a lone subscriber to these beliefs would be considered mad? Rather, is there any doubt that he would be mad?

The danger of religious faith is that it allows otherwise normal human beings to reap the fruits of madness and consider them holy. Because each new generation of children is taught that religious propositions need not be justified in the way that all others must, civilization is still besieged by the armies of the preposterous.

We are, even now, killing ourselves over ancient literature. Who would have thought something so tragically absurd could be possible?

(Sam Harris, The End of Faith, p. 73)

Gamecock said...

Iztok name calling returns, but is saved from banning due to Christian tolerance and love. Truly a "mad" idea, as are "love thy neighbor as thyself", "render unto Caesar" and the progressive "an eye for an eye" concept of proportional punishment.

Would that we had never heard such ravings so that virgin sacrifice, forced starvation, and gulags could have been preserved as our non-mad precepts, even in the mind of a loner no less.

All religions are not created equal. Sin is created equal, and people that kill will find a reason or excuse, whether religious or non-religious. But it is the Torah that introduced law into the Middle East and the West. It was Christianity that that continued same, to a higher moral plane.

It was not atheists. Their legacy is drenched in blood so deep that the drops from religion aren't enough for a good bath in comparison.

Want some madness?

Look to actions, not beliefs per se.

It is true that islamists are the main danger today. Religion is not the enemy. That religions fanatics are.

Iztok said...

Gamecock, just in case you didn't notice. This was a quote (and referenced as such at the end) from a book. I've used it as it pertains the topic of the religious hate crime killing recently mentioned in Jane's post.

Gamecock said...

Glad to see that you disagree? with the madness name calling quote. Right?

Iztok said...

Gamecock, I disagree with the fact that religious moderates are in fact opening the doors to radicals to do their bidding. When you accept things on no evidence it opens the door to the loonies.

Bob said...

Uh, Iz, maybe you shouldn't try to read any more books.

Was that sniping? That wasn't sniping. Was it?

Pete said...

Gamecock,
Can you list the core beliefs? Before you mentioned it, I haven't given it any thought. Thanks.

Pete said...

The only core beliefs I have are:
1) Love God
2) Love One Another

The Heretic said...

Pete, even I concur with those core beliefs.

Gamecock said...

Pete

What you listed were rules to live by, not beliefs. Those rules tell you much (bout not nearly all) about how to live life. One must still decide what love means, and what it means in context.

For instance, it wouldn't inform us at all as to what church you would join and what criteria you would use to determine if you would stay or leave based on circumstances of dispute within the church.

I take Jane's sniping complaint to be mainly directed at church members that blow minor issues, both personal, financial and theological into major schisms.

Of course, the very existence of denominations evidences major differences on theology, but as far as I'm concerned, I don't think any of the major denominations disagree on what I (and CS Lewis) and even the creeds, would call the core, or Mere Christianity.

I speak now of creedal beliefs from the Bible for the purpose of instruction.

As to salvation one has "only" to entrust their lives to Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior.

The Core:

God created the Universe

Man fell, i.e. chose to reject God as Lord and rather be his own God

God gave mankind the Law thru the Hebrew people

God became man as Jesus Christ thru his birth to a virgin for the purpose of reconciling man to himself

Jesus had to die to make it possible for us to be sons of God

His resurrection affirms his mission

that's off the top of my head

more later if you request

Pete said...

If the core issues of the world's religions were 1) Love God and 2) Love one another, the world would be a better place. Not only could we all worship together, we'd be loving each other. It would really change the world.

"What you listed were rules to live by, not beliefs."

Love God and love one another imply the existence of a loveable God and the belief that loving one another is good.

"One must still decide what love means, and what it means in context."

We know what love is--treating others as we would want to be treated.

Iztok said...

Not only we need to agree to definition of love we also need to ask those who believe to define what God is. Only then we can actually have a debate weather God they believe in truly has the qualities to meet the definition.

Now if we define God as "love" and obscure things like that then we don't need God as we already have love. It would be good if the faithful would answer weather:

1. God is all knowing.
2. God is all powerful.
3. God is benevolent.

That is a start. I content that not all the above can be true at the same time due to the state of the affair around us. Further just actions of religious esp. the act of prayer for something to happen or not happen goes against the above principles. What is prayer? Asking God to change his mind to alter his perfect plan? How presumptions is that? Why the heck would being described above do anything to change his mind and answer prayer that he wouldn't otherwise do if person wouldn't pray? Talking about some egocentric thinking of believers that such omni being would cater their will?

Anonymous said...

The main reason I have, and will continue to post anonymously, is that as an atheist I have received numerous death threats for voicing my views on both radio and in newspaper editorials in the past.

When I was single it was okay, but with a family, I will no longer take the risk.

Pete said...

Iztok,
I don't need to give you a definition of God, or debate you, in order to love God and other people.

Iztok said...

Pete, you are right, you don't need to. But issue at hand at that point is that any conversation when people at least don't adhere to the same definitions of words is futile. From what I've read so far and unless you give your definition of God I consider your God to be a jug of milk you pull out of the fridge in the morning. It would explain all the evil in the world and all the answered and unanswered prayers you have perfectly.

Gamecock said...

I understand anon (I just wonder why you don't pick a nickname. That way we know which anon you are)

But I mainly want to pick up on what you said about your family because I think when it comes to our love for others, the concept of Loving God, and, especially loving others as ourselves requires us to decide what does love mean when we deal with people that kill others either via crime or war and those that are plotting to kill and engaging in same.

For me, and most people in America for 200+ years and Western Civilization, our love for our loved ones means that to love them, we must oftentimes kill those that would harm them.

The lives of creatures in God's image are intrinsically worthy of life. God created Governments/Nations to dispense justice at home and defend and check others abroad.

Gamecock said...

Pete

I generally agree with your:

"If the core issues of the world's religions were 1) Love God and 2) Love one another, the world would be a better place. Not only could we all worship together, we'd be loving each other. It would really change the world."

Because, in fact, the spread of Christ's (and, actually, the same message in the OT) has made the world an infinitely better place than it was before same, and continues to be the main thing that allows for the Liberty that exists today.

I also agree with your:

"Love God and love one another imply the existence of a loveable God and the belief that loving one another is good.

But your:


"We know what love is--treating others as we would want to be treated."

Is vague. The OT and NT are good commentaries on what it means.

Pete said...

Humans experience many things the same way, e.g., the color red, the taste of salt and the love of God, making it unnecessary to explain what we mean when we say "red," "salty" and "love of God." When someone says, "I love God," I know what they mean as much as I would know what they meant if they said something is red. It makes no difference what religion they are. A Muslim's love for God is the same as a Christian's.

There's a lot of stuff in religion that confuses the core issues of loving God and loving each other. There can be shadows on a red wall, even pictures of Muhammad or Christ, but the wall is still red.

The blind don't experience red. They may ask those of us who do to describe it. We can try, but we'd fail. When the blind keep insisting we don't see red, we just shrug our shoulders. Of course there's no condemnation or ridicule, not even pity. There is much happiness and love that can be experienced without loving God.

Iztok said...

Pete: "Humans experience many things the same way, e.g., the color red, the taste of salt and the love of God"

Huh?

We know how to define red. It is light sin the the wavelength range of roughly 625–740 nm.

We can also measure saltines with defining ppt (parts per thousand) and as with wavelength of light we can measure it directly and indirectly.

So now please show us how "love of God" is defined and measured in the same way as color and saltines as described above. Or you can admit that you really know nothing of God you are talking and you just fake it all the time.

Pete said...

The experience of something doesn't require it being defined and measured.

Pete said...

You experience the color red the same as I do. You experience the taste of salt the same as I do. If you experienced the love of God, it would be the same as I do.

Pete said...

Back to the subject of this post: Since we all experience the love of God the same and God would have us love everyone, all the world's religions should be able to get along.

Iztok said...

Pete: I experience color red when light with certain wavelength hits nerve endings in my eyes. Not all people experience it the same but all that do experience it due to the fact that light did hit their nerves. (Color blind do not experience it the same way, they experience it as a shade of gray.)

Salt is the same way. Nerve endings detect certain qualities this producing the sensation.

Now tell us what qualities you react to when you say you experience "love of God"? What is it that gives you this experience and how does one define/measure it?

It is obvious that not all experience "love of God" (there are tens of millions in US alone that do not) and even those who claim they do do not experience it in the same way as it is obvious from the differences in their particular religious belief.

So basically your claim that "all experience love of God" then surely it is God who makes sure we don't feel it the same way (or not feel it at all) and when you actually complain about non-believers and those who believe differently all that you are doing is blaming the victim when in fact you should be pointing your finger at perpetrator of this great divide that causes so many unrests in the world - God.

Bob said...

Izzie:

You do not experience the color "red" when light waves hit your eyes. You (whatever "you" is) experience it when the brain organizes electrical impulses into an image. That you have a personality of which none of your brain cells is aware, and that this personality is defined by others outside your body, and that you nonetheless experience "your" personality as "yours" should give you pause when addressing a concept like collective consciousness. And by pause, I mean a silent pause.

Iztok said...

Bob, you experience color red when certain wavelength light hits your eyes. Your brain then interprets it.

When brain interprets something when there is nothing it is called delusion. When you "hear" voices or "see" things that are not there you are delusional. When there are more people with the same type of "hearing" voices and "seeing" things it is called a cult. When number increases it becomes religion. It still doesn't change the fact that there is nothing to be seen or heard.

At least with the light and taste there is something to experience for real and light and saltines are real. (as opposed to "love of God" as Pete was trying to compare)

Pete said...

Iztok,

Definitions and measurements of "the love of God" aren't necessary for the reasons I gave. Reread.

You are saying I said things that I didn't ,e.g., "all experience the love of God" and "you actually complain..." Reread.

" ...even those who claim they do [experience the love of God] do not experience it in the same way as it is obvious from the differences in their particular religious belief."

No, it isn't obvious. What you see are the differences in particular religious beliefs, not
their experience of the love of God.

You don't believe in God, yet you write, "this great divide that causes so many unrests in the world - God." Maybe you meant to say the belief in God.

There are aspects of religion that do cause unrest. The belief in God, the love of God and the common religious teaching to love one another don't.

Iztok said...

Pete: "There are aspects of religion that do cause unrest. The belief in God, the love of God and the common religious teaching to love one another don't."

I might even partially agree with it.

Basically what you are saying is:

"Gods don't kill people, people with gods kill people."

And I agree.

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

I rewrote what I said, changing the first line to make it, hopefully, easier to understand.

Humans share many experiences, e.g., the color red, the taste of salt and the love of God, making it unnecessary to explain what we mean when we say "red," "salty" and "love of God." When someone says, "I love God," I know what they mean as much as I would know what they meant if they said something is red. It makes no difference what religion they are. A Muslim's love for God is the same as a Christian's.

There's a lot of stuff in religion that clouds the core issues of loving God and loving each other. There can be shadows on a red wall, even pictures of Muhammad or Christ, but the wall is still red.

The blind don't experience red. They may ask those of us who do to describe it. We can try, but we'd fail. When the blind keep insisting we don't see red, we just shrug our shoulders. Although they can be a nuisance, there's no condemnation or ridicule, not even pity. There is much happiness and love that can be experienced without loving God.

Iztok said...

Pete, but you can explain to the blind what exactly causes experience of color red, you can also explain why blind person would not be able to experience it.

Or in other words, there is a cause for the color red (light with certain wavelength range).

On the other hand, you don't know what that "love of god" is nor you have any evidence of its existence other then some experience. That experience could be due to some other factor. For example certain drugs are known to cause hallucinations. Someone could get exact same "love of god" feeling induced with chemicals. Does that mean since they've experienced the feeling that chemicals are god?

Gamecock said...

Some people are color blind, to differing degrees.

Taste buds change over time.

Not all religions are equal.

Pete, you may imagine you know what someone else means when they say they love God, and in some sense, i.e. in the CS Lewis sense of The Law of Human nature (see below link), I agree that God communicates to all mean an inate sense of right and wrong or "fairness."

But, men can truly love God and seek to love others (including one's enemies) and still differ on what specific actions constitute love, whether it be that my love for others means that I don't allow other others to kill them; whether I use the death penalty or whether one spares the rod and spoils the child.

The conversation is just beginning when we love God and love others.

Not all religions are created equal.

Pete said...

Iztok,

I don't need to give you a definition of God, or debate you, in order to love God and other people.

In the future, please be careful about saying I said things I didn't.

Pete said...

Gamecock,

Yes, I do imagine others feel the same as I do when they say, "I love you, God." But I think it's more than my imagination. As I was trying to explain, we have common emotions and many other shared experiences, and I think the love of God is one of them.

I agree, there are difficult decisions that need to be made when loving people, and a lot of soul searching and discussion. People of all religions have to do this. Our religions and cultures influence our decisions. But if we can find common ground, I think we would be better able to love as Jesus would want us to.

Gamecock said...

Pete

Great answer. Agreed.

I would even say that I feel more of a kinship with people of other religions (not counting radical islamists that are really facsist seeking political power) and other people seeking God than I do with people in my own religion that are going thru the motions.

Iztok said...

Pete: "I don't need to give you a definition of God"

That is simply because you really don't have one. You change and shift to suite your current needs. Typical beliver believes in God that has a plan yet pray to change it for one at the same time. So on and so forth with full of incompatible views within oneself let alone outside. Hence many like you evade the definitions because deep down they know there is none and they just wish there was one (god that is). Sooner one realizes that better one is in life. It is hard for a child to give up the notion that Santa Claus is not real and even harder for adults to do the same with god(s).

Anonymous said...

"The _______ theory provides a viable solution to one of the most pressing questions of all time - the creation or origin of the universe. It is important to understand, however, that the _______theory itself is constantly being revised. As more observations and experiences are made and more research and examination conducted, the _______ theory becomes more complete and our knowledge of the origins of the universe more substantial."

Fill in the blanks with either "Big Bang" or "God". Both work. No need to stick to one, tired-old definition. Nothing has invalidated either.

Iztok said...

Anonymous, while there is the Big Bang theory there is no such thing as God theory. It simply doesn't fit the definition of theory thus can not be considered scientific at all.

While people refuse to define god we simply can't redefine the meaning of (scientific) theory when it comes to it. (When we are talking about Big Bang theory we are talking about scientific theory so some lay terms can not be applied.)

Bob said...

God is being.

Gamecock said...

What caused the Big Bang? works better than
What caused God?

But otherwise, yeah Anon.

pornstudent said...

I might be able to accept a definition of God, but I'm concerned about the influence of Christianity on our education and freedoms. In a 2005 Harris poll only 38% of Americans said human beings evolved from an earlier species. Science doesn't have all the answers, but it sure has helped a lot of people live happier lives. I've mentioned my concern about our freedoms in other posts.

Anonymous said...

Who says a theory has to be scientific? My personal God theory certainly fits most of the following Merriam-Webster definitions of "theory". So do other God theories.

1: the analysis of a set of facts in their relation to one another. (It’s a fact that a heck of a lot of people believe in God as the Creator. A relatively few claim that’s not so. I’d like to know which position is correct, hence my evolving God theory. I adjust it to reflect new scientific findings as well as various theological stances.

2: abstract thought : SPECULATION. (FITS HERE, TOO).

3: the general or abstract principles of a body of fact, a science, or an art. (Could be of a body of theological principles, too).

4 : a belief, policy, or procedure proposed or followed as the basis of action. (My God theory comprises my ever-evolving beliefs in a Supreme Being. I certainly follow my beliefs and seek answers to support or refute them.)

5: a plausible or scientifically acceptable general principle or body of principles offered to explain phenomena, i.e the wave theory of light. (I’ll give you this one, One out of six).

6 a: a hypothesis assumed for the sake of argument or investigation b: an unproved assumption : (I THINK EVEN YOU HAVE TO ACCEPT THIS ONE).

Either there was a controlling force (God) responsible for the Universe and ultimately us, or there was just a big accident of nothingness. When I stop to reflect on the fact we are walking upside down at times on a large orb revolving around a sun in an expanding universe, the better I feel about covering all bases with both a God Theory and a Big Bang Theory.

Bob said...

I have a hard time seeing why it is more delusional to believe, on the basis of sensation, that God "exists" somewhere "out there" than it is to believe that color "exists" somewhere "out there." The brain does not interpret colors that are somehow latent in light waves. That is a delusion. The brain creates colors out of electrical impulses and then projects them out onto the world, so as to make the world more manageable. And isn't that, oh forget it.

Anonymous said...

Pete,

When I take my laptop to Caribou Coffee and connect to their WiFi, I don’t see any cable connecting my computer system to their router access to the Internet. Yet I know I’m experiencing Web connectivity because I type “Jane Pope Sacred Space” into Google and get here. That experience is not due to some other factor.

When I call my dog with one of those ultra-high-pitch whistles, he responds, although you wouldn’t see any cable or speakers connecting him to me, and you wouldn’t hear the call yourself.

When you connect to God, or vice-versa, Iztok wouldn’t see any cable, either, much as less hear that call. Yet you know you’ve connected. That love is reflected in your actions. It’s not due to some other factor. Yet some folks who have never experienced it have the unmitigated gall to try their darndest to tell you it doesn’t exist, or that it’s due to something else besides God.

They’ll even go so far as to suggest that they experienced something “similar”, that they know didn’t come from God, and therefore illogically conclude that your experience has to be exactly what they experienced.

I must admit, though, that having an atheist tell us what God is or isn’t has always been one of the most entertaining features of this blog. Sort of like having a blind seeing-eye dog attempt to lead folks down the street.

Iztok The Cable Guy: Don’t let him wire up your home. He isn’t even getting good reception from God at his own.

Bob said...

And definitely don't let him adjust the color. He's got some weird superstitions about that!

Iztok said...

"Who says a theory has to be scientific?"

If you are talking about origin of the universe you are talking science. Thus only scientific theory would apply. Mythology does not work there.

If you talk Big Bang theory you are talking about scientific theory and you can't mix&match the word definition to fit your meaning. If you feel you can define your God theory in scientific terms, let us know, then we can discuss beginning of universe according to your God theory.

As far as stupidity of Wi-Fi and dog whistle comparison. Another misconception. We can detect and measure Wi-Fi and dog whistle. Which is infinitely and immeasurably more we can say about God.

Anonymous said...

Fine. I'll sign as anon1 if that helps remove the ambiguity.

As far as counting Christian violence on one hand goes, I'm fairly sure you can surpass that with abortion clinic violence alone.

Then if you add in all the child abuse I'm sure you could move to the fingers of the next hand.

I can count the violence (and definitely the threats of violence) on more than one hand and I'm just one atheist in the crowd.

The first time it happened was in ninth grade when a little gang of Christians threatened to beat the "Fear of the Lord" into me.

They didn't. And, of course, it is mostly Christians who are opposed to tougher school bullying rules. That's because they depend on harassment for conformity.

I know others who have had similar incidents or more subtle attempts to harass them (through their work, for example).

Usually anonymous.

Just try driving a car with an atheist bumper sticker and see how long it stays unvandalized.

It's when the Christians feel relatively secure in not getting caught that they show their true selves.

The guy who shot up the Unitarian meeting was obviously an extreme example, but I can see the seeds of his hatred in the 3 main Religions of the Book, Judaism, Christianity, and Islam.

All 3 do not mix well with those who are outside the tribe.

-anon1

Gamecock said...

anon1

Abortion clinic violence? Second hand?

Not a serious person are you? You are alive right?

Mao, Stalin and Hitler killed hundreds of millions.

Total Spanish inquistion, etc is les than 10,000.

How many at abortion clinics? Zero and none in the name of the church.

And you don't mention Islamists?

you are not a seriuos person

away from me

Anonymous said...

If we're talking about the origin of the universe, we're talking science AND religion. In fact, that's a lot of what religion is all about. Each regimen has espoused theories about who, what, why, where and when.

Besides, I've already demonstrated that a theory does not have to be scientific, unless you've managed to rewrite the world's dictionaries in the past few hours.

Oh, I'm sure that most would argue that they already have a patent answer: i.e. Judaism, Christianity, Islam, etc. But when you go by God theory, your position isn't hopelessly tied to some edicts of the past as is the case with taking a stand and then trying to defend it against new and conflicting discoveries.

Rather God Theory evolves as science AND religion find new answers.

When a theory proves that the universe was not the product of an intelligent, calculating, caring mind, I'll adjust my God theory accordingly.

Hasn't happened, has it?

John said...

Maybe Iztok is a Christian Scientist or maybe a Scientologist?

Anonymous said...

What's your point, Gamecock? That none of the clinic violence ever occurred?

It's a matter of public record that several physicians and even escorts have been shot. Sometimes shot and injured, sometimes shot and killed.

I've known clinic escorts who were stalked for weeks by nutcase Christians after clinic "protests".

Maybe they were just infatuated with atheist women, eh? Or perhaps looking for an opportunity to go further?

Maybe a little one-on-one "witnessing" perhaps?

Still falling back on the Hitler/Stalin/Mao excuse.

We're talking about lone nutcases here. The kind I hope to avoid by posting as...

-anon1

Anonymous said...

No abortion clinic killings in the name of the church, eh?

It's just a coincidence that the most virulent protesters are Christians, I guess.

And what about Islamists?

They are also people of "The Book" and are just as confident as Christians and Jews that "God" is on their side.

Islam is basically pre-Enlightenment Christianity.

I don't see much difference.

The people who came to America to escape religious persecution were escaping from Christians.

-anon1

Gamecock said...

Isolated kooks that have killed few, you use to trya nd disparage the Christian Church.

Reminds of the toothpick in the eye being schooled by beam in eye.

Not a serious argument.

Anonymous said...

Sorry, Gamecock.

Examples from personal experience will always be smaller than massacres like the Crusades.

Doesn't mean Christians can't kill en-masse as well.

It's just not this particular topic. The lone kooks are.

-anon1

Anonymous said...

Current event flash...

Minnesota professor getting death threats for threatening to "desecrate" a communion cracker.

http://minnesotaindependent.com/view/flowery-language

It is stuff like this that makes me post as...

-anon1

Iztok said...

"When a theory proves that the universe was not the product of an intelligent, calculating, caring mind, I'll adjust my God theory accordingly."

That statement has at minimum two logical fallacies.

1. Universal negative is impossible to prove. The onus is on you to provide evidence of your "theory".

2. From "intelligent, calculating, caring mind" to God is a huge leap. You need to show connection between your initial claim and God.

Again, when we talk about Big Bang theory we talk about scientific theory thus you need to provide scientific theory to match. Theory has to be falsifiable. It has to include way how one would disprove it. So tell me how would you disprove your God "theory"?

Anonymous said...

Iztok said "So tell me how would you disprove your God 'theory'?"

The same way a scientist would disprove the Big Bang Theory.

So now you tell me whether you or anyone else has ever proved there is no God, instead of trying to change definitions to suit yourself and support your pathetic reasoning powers.

Oh, I forgot. Unlike most of us, you've never witnessed God's power and love at work. Therefore according to the Iztok Theory, God doesn't exist. That's laughable, but typical.

Iztok said...

Anony:

Here are facts we know that support Big Bang theory:

We know that the galaxies out to the most distant ones we can discern, are moving away from us so that the universe is 'expanding'.

We know that the universe is bathed in the microwave glow of the fireball radiation that accompanied the Big Bang.

We know that there is a 'universal' abundance of hydrogen, helium, deuterium and lithium which doesn't vary much in no matter which old objects we look at.

We know that there are no stars older than 20 billion years even though these kinds of stars should be easily recognizable if the universe were truly older than 20 billion years.


So for example finding a star that is older then 20 billion years would do the trick.

Now your turn about God Theory. While you are at it, describe it. Here is description of Big Bang theory:

http://www.astronomycafe.net/qadir/q2131.html

Anonymous said...

Hitler was a Catholic. And while Stalin was an atheist, his atrocities were more akin to religious zealotry - that is "Think alike, don't question, or be punished."

Anonymous said...

(Sung to the tune of the Gentrys oldie, "Keep On Dancin' "):

“He keeps on dancin' (keeps on),
dancin' round the question being the jerk right now.
He tries to shake the faithful.
And claims that God we just don't know.

Bomp, Bomp, Bomp, Bomp, Bomp...

Yellin' in motion (keeps on)
Keeps on doin' the "loco"motion, yeah
Don't worry, all believers
he can't shake faith,shake faith,no!”

pornstudent said...

Although I'm an atheist, I'm glad there are many people seeking God and wanting meaningful, loving and eternal lives.

Scientists spend a lot of money and effort trying to communicate with extraterrestrial intelligence. If it exists, it is probably much more intelligent than we are. Since we would likely be as insignificant to it as gnats are to us, why would this intelligence want to communicate with us? What is it that we can do that would have it notice us? Billions of us calling out to God, talking to God, singing hymns, believing in the hereafter, wanting eternal life, yearning for meaning and wanting to be better lovers make us different from other animals. And I think they are qualities a super intelligence would like. Maybe it can help us live forever and our desire for meaning and love would have it desire our company.

Gamecock said...

portstudent

great comment

Hallelujah!

Lazarus said...

I think people that pull out guns and kill innocent people, either in church, or school, or anywhere really, are severely mentally ill. Cold-blooded killing with a gun isn't about religious protest or acting out on theological differences. It is about a deep pain, an interruption and error in thinking, a disconnect from human empathy, and a desperate and violent external act as a bloody attempt to address the pain and madness indwelling in the individual.

Often, when humans cannot deal with their problems internally, they act out externally, targeting those that represent their internal conflict. It is as if the mind tries to deal with the internal by controlling the external. If I can't stop myself, maybe I can stop "them"?

Can't deal with your homosexual urges? Condemn gays in public, demonize them, scapegoat and blame the victim, or just get a baseball bat and start swinging. Can't keep it in your pants around your hot secretary? Have a 5-year long affair, then dump your old wife as she fights for her life in the hospital so you can marry the young woman you've been committing adultery with. Both of these examples are from recent political and religious headlines. I'm not pointing fingers, God knows we all fail to meet our own standards and I surely have as well. I'm not throwing the first stone here. Just trying to point out that these situations are pretty easy to understand.

The way forward is to embrace mental health practices. Its the difference between going 5 miles down the road to join or establish a church that reflects your beliefs, and murdering innocent people. One may believe the Unitarians are theologically incorrect, but 99.9% of those holding that opinion simply do not attend that church. The mentally ill grab a gun and try to kill the "difference" they cannot accept or resolve. We need mental health care.

Anonymous said...

Pornstudent,

As long as we're speculating...

What if these super-intelligent ET's appreciate these worshipful human qualities because they make us appear easier to domesticate (like sheep and cows)?

Just a few high-tech magic tricks and we'll offer no resistance, worshipping them as gods.

Sounds like an easy path to slaughter to me.

Maybe it's even been tried before, but humans woke up just in time to rout the invaders.

I really don't see why a super-intelligence would like these qualities at all unless they were interested in using us for their own ends at our expense.

Otherwise, wouldn't they prefer someone they could learn from?

-anon1

pornstudent said...

anon1,
You're right. Oh, well.

Anonymous said...

Pornstudent,

Brain-sucking aliens are planning an attack on Earth. They will only save those who believe in them.

And we are helpless to disprove this.

-anon1

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

Anonymous wrote, "Minnesota professor getting death threats for threatening to "desecrate" a communion cracker."

No Christian should condone such actions as those perpetrated by Mr Kroll.

That aside, if Professor Meyers follows through with his plan -- and if he does so using a host consecrated in the Catholic Mass (hosts used by Protestants are not transsubstantiated) -- death is the least of his worries.

Iztok said...

Danbo: "if Professor Meyers follows through with his plan -- and if he does so using a host consecrated in the Catholic Mass (hosts used by Protestants are not transsubstantiated) -- death is the least of his worries."

And he did. Guess what, he is still alive and kicking. Apparently it wasn't that of a big deal to the almighty or he isn't almighty anymore as he wasn't hit by a lightning bolt or turned into pillar of salt or anything like that for so called blasphemy. Perhaps he has a better sense of humor or he actually likes the intellectual honesty of PZ Mayers and guiding his hands himself after all he has a plan and who is PZ Mayers to not follow it?

Iztok said...

At least one senator decided to do the right thing and sue the culprit. Now I wonder if defendant will show in court or not. My guess is he will not.

http://blog.wired.com/27bstroke6/files/chambersversusgod.pdf

Anonymous said...

I doubt that Myers is the least concerned about the otherworldly consequences of his actions.

After all, people regularly commit blasphemy and sacrilege for religions they don't follow and rarely think about it.

In fact, most people would laugh if you mentioned how their normal daily activities offended some god or the other.

We eat pork, eat beef, mix men and women in public, sell Buddha heads in home furnishing stores, and draw cartoons of Muhammad without much concern.

No big deal unless the followers of those religions take up the slack where the gods don't punish.

Most religions have some otherworldly consequence for insulting their religion that most of us ignore.

Besides, how can anyone really know whether Myers really desecrated a transsubstantiated
cracker?

It's not like you can take it to a DNA lab to have it tested.

As an atheist, Myers is just as worried about the otherworldly consequences of what he did as most of us would be for eating a hamburger.

Danbo59 said...

Izzie noted, "Guess what, he is still alive and kicking."

For now he is. But that, someday, will come to an end. Then he will wish he hadn't done what he did.

Iztok said...

Danbo: "For now he is. But that, someday, will come to an end. Then he will wish he hadn't done what he did."

Wishful thinking on your behalf. If you would read your Bible you would see that God would have acted swiftly on such things if he would have been concerned or existed. Considering no pillar of salt or anything similar happened to PZ Myers evidence (or lack of) shows its own story. You know, sometimes non existence of evidence is evidence of non existence.

Sure, his life will come to an end and I am sure he knows that and so do the rest of us. With exception of religious who think (again, no evidence) that there is something special after they die. Wishful thinking that is all it is.

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

Izzie(-for-real) writes, "With exception of religious who think (again, no evidence) that there is something special after they die. Wishful thinking that is all it is."

I call it a comforting fact! Jesus was there and returned. That's all the proof anyone should need (if God's *word* isn't enough for you).

Now, go away and find an atheist board on which to waste your time.

Iztok said...

Danbo: "if God's *word* isn't enough for you"

Sure it is. Prove me that it is really a "God's word" then I will trust what you are saying. Show me the evidence.

Anonymous said...

Great.

Now we have a local nutcase being held by the feds for threatening to assassinate Obama for being the "Antichrist".

-anon1

Anonymous said...

And apparently that Ivins fellow who was behind the anthrax "terrorist" attack was a big anti-abortion
proponent.

-anon1