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Please Refrain from “Anti-Moderates” Rhetoric

January 27th, 2009 · Posted by Hugo · 348 Comments

…on this blog, that is.

We all agree that the problem is fundamentalism (the strong form, I sometimes use a softened version of the term). Where we don’t all agree, is what the “cause” is — consequently, what to do about the problem.

The so-called “new atheism movement” often expresses the sentiment that moderates are to blame for fundamentalism. Such debates often continue ad nauseum, and no longer interest me. I would also like to refrain from discussing the far future, defining “the far future” as that which is beyond my lifetime. When looking within these parameters, within this time-frame, it should be quite uncontroversial to say religion is here to stay. To repeat myself: to avoid debate, I’m explicitly only looking up to my horizons, my lifetime. I’m saying Cyrus Jones lived forever*.

There’s one particular reason why having this “moderates are to blame” attitude is so useful for atheists: they typically have no idea how to “talk to” fundamentalists. (And the obvious response to that statement of mine is: does anyone?) Moderates they can talk to, however. — Nevertheless, this blog focuses on fundamentalism, its purpose is to investigate fundamentalism and its dangers directly (i.e. not via “drying up the breeding ground” or something indirect like that), and in the process, make some (minor?) contribution to fixing the problem. If you think this is an absolute waste of your time, that’s fine. Much of this blog isn’t for you then. I suggest you move on, or if you’re curious, lurk but don’t waste your time commenting.

The reason I say this: aggressive anti-moderate rhetoric is detrimental to this blog’s mission or modus operandi. It shuts down conversations and erodes any hope this blog has of achieving its primary goal: to encourage critical thinking among fundamentalists (as opposed to handing down The Truth, like both “evangelical” atheists and certain kinds of evangelical Christians are prone to doing), and to promote cross-cultural understanding and peaceful co-existence of fascinating diversity. (Rephrased: diversity that is here to stay, must develop to a point where it can peacefully co-exist. Obviously so. Tautologically so in fact.)

The goal here on this blog should not be to convert anyone from anything to anything else.

If this blog were to achieve the goal of cross-cultural understanding and acceptance of diversity, fundamentalism would by definition no longer exist. That of course also won’t happen (remember: Cyrus Jones lived forever*), but we can certainly make some progress. Any battles beyond this goal, is outside of the intended sphere of interest or influence of this blog. We aim to build bridges and promote cultural exchange. Once that is done, we merely observe the results with inquisitive fascination, ideally not passing any judgements: impartial detached observers. Anthropologists. It is not our place to judge. (Gotta love idealism.)


Recap: if you think this is a quixotic quest, a waste of time, I propose it is also a waste of your time trying to convince us we’re wasting our time. Let us choose how we want to spend our time. If however you believe this blog is detrimental to humanity as a whole, we’re on an interesting collision course. If you believe that to be the case, after reading enough of this blog to have an informed opinion, it is very likely that your view of the world places you in my “fundamentalist” category.

And this blog exists to address that very problem: the problem of fundamentalism…

Thus, if you find yourself in that category, I would be very interested to have a brief exchange. Half a dozen comments maybe, possibly not more than a dozen though. Please forgive me if I start encouraging people to not feed the troll after a dozen comments: that is often enough to know whether the discussion is going to go anywhere that remains interesting. Alternatively, I might try to steer the conversation into new interesting directions (risking accusations of not finishing some supposed “debate”).


*Gravedigger, Dave Matthews Band: one of my all-time favourite songs. The first 45 seconds of that first link provides all the necessary context for this reference, and it doesn’t contain video: just an image of the album cover. For the impatient, the YouTube-less, the headphone-less-while-in-the-office, or the deaf, or the deaf, you can find the relevant lyrics here. I hate the music video, it ruins the song. It should be listened to with the eyes unoccupied.

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348 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Hugo // Jan 27, 2009 at 2:30 am

    And another preparatory post.

    This post exists to communicate a particular “commenting guideline”. Discussion of the guideline is most welcome.

    Note also: making your opinion of “moderates” known is certainly not prohibited, but please do so in a friendly manner, either as an addition to a more on-topic comment. Examples:

    • After a thoughtful and on-topic comment, “That said, I do think it would have been best if moderates all suddenly became secular humanists” would be okay.
    • As an on-topic comment, addressing something discussed in the post responded to: “The concern I have about moderates is that they all too often encourage exactly that kind of conventional wisdom” or “…encourage that kind of afterlife belief” or “…discourage critical investigation of such-and-such”.

    Granted: those with a powerful command of English (or Afrikaans, which is also welcome) have a distinct advantage in this regard, being able to phrase concerns in a much less confrontational manner.


    Another comment about something I hate when writing blog posts: to get a particular group to happily agree with something you’re saying, you usually have to say something that implies they’re the “in” group, the “better” group, the “Right” group. You have to agree with them. Find a finely balanced position that walks an unbiased line between two groups to encourage the broadening of perspectives on both sides, and you simply end up a target for both. ;-) What are they afraid of? Is a difference of opinion really that upsetting to some people?

    Yea, c’est la vie. *sigh*.

    Sometimes you get it just right though, and both sides feel you’re on their side, merely expressing some interesting or somewhat contrarian ideas. Well, I’d argue I am on everyone’s side, within the context of encouraging deeper reflection and better understanding all around!

  • 2 Die piesangverkoper // Jan 27, 2009 at 4:45 pm

    Ek verskil met jou waar jy sê “they don’t know how to talk to fundamentalists”. Ek meen die Nathan Bonds van hierdie wêreld kan slegs met fundamentaliste kommunikeer omdat hulle mekaar op dieselfde vlak kan ontmoet – daar is ten minste ‘n effense iets van ‘n gedeelde mentaliteit. Wat hulle nie kan doen nie, is om te kommunikeer met iemand wat moderate is en nie in hul karikatuur van spiritualiteit pas nie. Daarom moet hulle alle moderates op een of ander manier in die kraal saam met fundies probeer jaag – dis al manier dat die Dawkins-clones met hulle kan praat.

    Die hele idee van moderates as “enablers” van fundamentalism het ek die eerste keer in Sam Harris raakgelees, en daarna is dit klakkeloos deur ander belydende ateïste rondgeslinger sonder dat enigiemand nog (so ver ek weet) enige back-up daarvoor kon gee. As iemand weet wat die meganisme is waarvolgens moderates fundies enable sal ek baie graag wil weet, want dis regtig nie wat ek in die praktyk sien nie.

  • 3 Heidi // Jan 28, 2009 at 12:00 am

    Ek dink nie die twee word in dieselfde kamp gejaag omdat ‘n ateis nie weet hoe om met iemand te praat wat in die presiese mould pas nie. Dit is omdat daar steeds ‘n mould is, of dit nou nommerpas is of nie. Die worldview spruit uit dieselfde bron, en omdat die bron se bestaan ontken word, word die twee oor dieselfde kam geskeer.

    Ek dink die enabling le daarin dat die moderates selde openlik en direk ‘n fundamentalist sal kritiseer.’n Moderate sal luidrugtig verkondig dat sy manier die regte manier is maar sal min doen om die negatiewe, of dan misguided, elemente aan te spreek. Soms, veral in ‘n debat met ‘n ateis sal ‘n moderate of ontken dat daar ‘ fundamentalist probleem is of die fundamentalist vehemently verdedig. ‘n Tipe us vs them wat gespin word n.a.v. die konteks.

  • 4 Die piesangverkoper // Jan 28, 2009 at 11:31 am

    Heidi, is jy regtig onbewus van al die kritiek wat moderate Christene op fundamentalisme lewer? Ek weet nie hoe jy “moderate” definieer nie, maar dit klink vir my asof jy die term “moderate” gebruik wanneer jy eintlik van fundamentaliste praat. Dalk moet Hugo vir ons die term duideliker omskryf.

  • 5 Heidi // Jan 28, 2009 at 11:46 am

    Hugo is welkom om dit te doen, maar ek dink nie dit sal veel help nie omdat dit sekerlik meerendeels subjektief is. Die bronne van die kritiek sal meer behulpsaam wees, dink ek.

  • 6 Die piesangverkoper // Jan 28, 2009 at 1:28 pm

    Heidi, begin sommer by Hugo van thinktoomuch.net, hy is ‘n goeie voorbeeld.

    Dan kan jy sommer ook vir Hugo vir ‘n verdere leeslys vra – hy sal waarskynlik begin met http://www.reallivepreacher.com en Marcus Borg, maar ek weet ook hy het heelwat andere wat hy met jou sal deel.

    Selfs nog makliker: kyk bietjie televisie en lees koerant, daar is hope godsdienstige moderates te sien. Enjoy.

  • 7 Heidi // Jan 28, 2009 at 2:22 pm

    Is dit my verbeelding of raak die tone nou effe sarkasties? My kommentaar is nie anti-moderate rhetoric nie, so please unclench.

    My ervaring is dat daar hope moderates te vinde is, maar min moderates wat openlik ‘n standpunt teen fundamentalists neem. Die fokus is myns insiens nie intern nie. Vir ware vordering of groei moet daar ‘n interne lokus van beheer wees.

    ” Heidi, is jy regtig onbewus van al die kritiek wat moderate Christene op fundamentalisme lewer?”

    “Al die kritiek” impliseer daar is hordes. Dit is nie my ervaring nie. In die gevalle waar dit wel bestaan, is dit nie naastenby so in your face soos creationist vs evolution debates nie. Miskien gebeur dit baie in godsdiensgeorienteerde media, want ek loop dit selde raak. En ek bly nie onder ‘n klip nie. Die punt is dat ek nie daarvoor behoort te gaan soek nie. En ek is nie ‘n Dawkins-clone nie (watookal dit veronderstel is om te beteken), so hoeveel te meer geld dit nie vir hulle nie?

  • 8 Owen Swart // Jan 28, 2009 at 2:47 pm

    “As iemand weet wat die meganisme is waarvolgens moderates fundies enable sal ek baie graag wil weet, want dis regtig nie wat ek in die praktyk sien nie.”

    Well I’m not an anthropologist, and I’m not aware of anyone having performed this study, but I can fairly easily postulate some mechanisms through which this could happen:

    1. Adulation. As a person of faith, a moderately religious person (as I once was) is usually taught (as I was) to admire members of the same religion who demonstrate greater levels of faithfulness, devotion and piety. Since fundamentalists are often portrayed (especially by their own PR machines) to be more faithful, devoted and pious than moderates, I don’t think it’s that much of a stretch to presume that at least some moderates might find that admirable, and therefore promote an environment where fundamentalism is not only accepted, but revered.

    2. Us vs Them. As Heidi pointed out, fundamentalists and moderates draw their articles of faith from the same sources. That being the case, they tend to agree on more points than they disagree. In the context of a perceived ‘Culture War’ (such as the one which is widely acknowledged in the US and Western Europe), moderates might be more likely to side with their fundamentalist brethren, against the various hordes of heathens with whom they agree on very little.

    3. Breeding grounds. This point draws on the previous two: when fundamentalists look to swell their ranks (which is a constant preoccupation for many of them), they are likely to turn to demographics who already share some of their points of view. It’s a lot easier for a moderate to become a fundamentalist than it is for a non-believer to become one.

    As I said, I don’t know if any of these are true. But I can easily imagine that they are, and they do seem to be consistent with the behaviour of some moderate and fundamentalist communities that I have observed.

    Of course there are examples of outspoken moderates who do step up and speak out against fundamentalists, as have been mentioned here. But do these represent in any way a majority support among moderates, or are we looking at a vocal minority?

    In the atheist community we see some of the loudest and most obvious criticism leveled against the Four Horsemen coming from within our won ranks. Perhaps it is confirmation or selection bias on my part, but I don’t see anywhere near the same amount of criticism against fundamentalists from within the religious community.

  • 9 Die piesangverkoper // Jan 28, 2009 at 2:49 pm

    Nee, dit raak nie sarkasties nie.

    Jy hoef regtig nie te soek nie. Gestel nou byvoorbeeld jy woon op Stellenbosch, waar Hugo se kerk is. Dan het jy die Shofars, wat fundamentaliste is en die grootste kerk daar is. Die tweede grootste kerk is die Stellenbosch-gemeente, wat deel van die Emerging Movement is wat uit kritiek op die fundamentalisme gegroei het en waar daar elke Sondag van die kansel af teen die fundamentalisme gewaarsku word. Dan is daar ook ‘n teologiese kweekskool op dieselfde dorp wat sowat 1/3 van die NG Kerk se dominees oplei en waar verskeie lektors gereeld in lesings, koerantartikels en akademiese artikels teen die fundamentalistiese vertolkings van hul tradisie uitvaar (ek kan jou spesifiek na die werk van Louis Jonker, Elna Mouton en Hendrik Boshof verwys – laasgenoemde maak kritiek op die fundamentalisme een van sy fokusvelde).

    Breer in Suid-Afrika weet ek van antifundmentalistiese literatuur (populêre literatuur) wat in soveel woorde uitvaar teen die fundamentalisme geskryf deur die aartsbiskop van Kaapstad (hoof van die Anglikaanse Kerk), die assessor van die NG Kerk (onderhoof van sy kerkverband), Molefe (mees senior figuur in die Metodistekerk) ensovoorts ensovoorts ensovoorts.

    Ek is regtig jammer as ek sarkasties geklink het – met sarkasme kan mens niks bereik nie – maar dit is regtig vir my moeilik om in te sien hoe mens alle moderates as advokate van die fundamentalisme kan beleef tensy jy regtig moedswillig is.

  • 10 Heidi // Jan 28, 2009 at 3:01 pm

    “Ek is regtig jammer as ek sarkasties geklink het – met sarkasme kan mens niks bereik nie – maar dit is regtig vir my moeilik om in te sien hoe mens alle moderates as advokate van die fundamentalisme kan beleef tensy jy regtig moedswillig is.”

    Geen probleem nie. Dit is uiters moeilik om tone op te tel in hierdie medium.

    Ek dink daar is ‘n verskil tussen ‘n enabler (jou eerste comment) en ‘n advokaat (jou laaste comment) en ek dink nie daar is bewys vir laasgenoemde nie, maar het wel begrip vir die non-believer standpunt rondom die eersgenoemde.

    Die voorbeelde wat jy genoem het kom dus in Stellenbosch en in die kweekskool voor, en is dus nie geredelik beskikbaar nie. Maar dit is gerusstellend om te hoor dat dit wel aangespreek word.

  • 11 Hugo // Jan 28, 2009 at 3:32 pm

    With regards to “enabling”, I can certainly take part in that conversation. How did I get sucked into fundamentalism? By a moderate upbringing. OK, and a couple of rough things life threw at me, which is often the case. While I was always scientifically minded from a young age, and learned about evolution while still in pre-school (thanks dad!), and chose topics like “how does the sun work?” for orals in primary school (with too few sources though, I only talked about reactions like four hydrogen atoms merging to make one helium, with no mention of all the heavier elements up to iron, but I didn’t have internet back then! ;-) ). And yet, fundamentalism caught me in its jaws. Explicitly for a month or three, but the years leading up to that, and recovering from that, was still the influence of fundamentalism. It was certainly a matter of “greater faith: something we’re supposed to strive for”. But that’s just one side of the story, and I don’t consider it a particularly valuable contribution to the conversation/debate.

    Thus: I’m pretty much staying out of this conversation. Much more interesting to me is the question of how to better enable and promote the internal reflection (and criticism) that is so critical to keeping things in check… be it an individual’s way of life, or an institutionalised fundamentalism, or a political regime, or …

    This really does warm my heart:

    In the atheist community we see some of the loudest and most obvious criticism leveled against the Four Horsemen coming from within our won ranks.

    …as does the self-awareness exhibited by Heidi’s Owen’s skepticism of her his own conclusions:

    Perhaps it is confirmation or selection bias on my part,

    And the last clause is to me less a statement about the way things are, than the way things are preceived:

    but I don’t see anywhere near the same amount of criticism against fundamentalists from within the religious community.

    …and thus connects to my question of “how might we better encourage and promote and publicise the internal self-reflection, how do we enable and empower it? Irrespective of whether it is already at a “sufficient” level or not.

    For the Afrikaans-capable, here’s a post I recommend reading. Consider e.g. comments from Amanda’s and on. A friend recently pointed me at it: Hoekom net ons? — teo @ UP.

    As my a response to that “Why only us?”, I’ll wager my (uninformed) opinion as to why this might be:

    I think the small-town internal dialogue nature of Stellenbosch’s criticism of fundamentalism, together with the general “popular” opinion of the town with regards to Shofar et al, is such that fundie criticism against… um… “moderate” aka theological-seminary-educated Christianity doesn’t get much of a foothold. They’re still the “small rebel”. (I don’t know how big Shofar is these days, is it really bigger than SG?) This dynamic of internal (Stellenbosch) criticism forces them to play friendly with the rest of the Christians in Stellenbosch.

    UP on the other hand has the unfortunate position of not having small-town-protection, and might be getting all the flak precisely for the reason that they are more publicly addressing the problem, more openly critiquing fundamentalism? Stellies’ criticism seems more of a localised battle to me, or more a focus on educating the leaders well, than directly challenging the fundie memes on a grass-roots level?

  • 12 Hugo // Jan 28, 2009 at 3:40 pm

    Oh, because from my biased perspective, based on (a) confirmation bias and (b) the circles I move around in, I could say:

    “I don’t see anywhere near the same amount of criticism against fundamentalists atheists from within the religious atheistic community.”

    But I know for a fact this is because I’m not exactly following their internal dialogue. Here and there I read blogs that have what I feel is a healthy view on the matter. E.g. on The Meming of Life. See Dale’s take on the Rick Warren invitation for example. I loved it!

    So I know I’m in no position to raise an informed opinion that aims to quantify the amounts of internal criticism in either group. I’m only in a position where I can ask “so where can I contribute?”

  • 13 Die piesangverkoper // Jan 28, 2009 at 4:52 pm

    Dalk moet ek ook net my bias verklaar: ek kom uit ‘n fundamentalistiese agtergrond, het byna die helfte van my lewe daarin deurgebring, en dit was moderate religie wat my enable het om daar uit te kom, vernaamd deur vir my ‘n veilige spasie te skep waar ek van die krake in die edifice bewus kon word. Ek dink nie ek sou die sprong reguit deconversion toe kon maak nie, but who knows?

  • 14 Hugo // Jan 29, 2009 at 12:51 am

    I concur with piesangverkoper, “moderate” religion remains, in my experience also, the best way out of fundamentalism.

    (Piesangverkoper said it was moderate religion that enabled him to get out of fundamentalism, having spent half his life in it. It created a safe space from where he could see the cracks, and he doesn’t think he would have been able to make the jump directly to deconversion, “but who knows?”)

    The deconversion.com guys: same story. Many found their way out via moderate religion. Which (a) kinda explains/confirms the fundie’s concerns and warnings about “moderates”, and (b) might actually serve as a good reason why it’s a “good and effective” thing for the atheists to lump them together: creating a them-vs-us scenario might just make moderate religion look safer to the fundies, ensuring it doesn’t get associated with “the evil atheists”… ;) So who knows, maybe many atheists’ negativity towards moderates actually does serve “their cause”, if their cause is to “help solve fundamentalism” rather than “gain public acceptance for their worldview”. :-P (Note I’m rather talking about the “evangelical” anti-theists now. More terms and adjectives I should define, methinks.)

    I’d love to hear more about your experiences, piesangverkoper. Maybe over a beer next time I visit?

  • 15 Kenneth Oberlander // Jan 29, 2009 at 10:14 am

    @Owen Swart:

    various hordes of heathens

    Can I put this on my business card?
    Kenneth Oberlander: Heathen Horde member. Free club (with a nail in it) included…

    @piesangverkoper:

    wat deel van die Emerging Movement is wat uit kritiek op die fundamentalisme gegroei het en waar daar elke Sondag van die kansel af teen die fundamentalisme gewaarsku word.

    Mag ek net sê hoe bly ek is om dit te hoor! Ek kan nie se ek is ‘n gereelde kerk-bywoner nie (/sarcasm), maar dit is ‘n groot verligting om te weet hierdie topic word aangespreek.

    @Hugo:

    I concur with piesangverkoper, “moderate” religion remains, in my experience also, the best way out of fundamentalism.

    I would be inclined to say that a substantial number of fundamentalists go straight through to Heathen Horde membership, without passing go or collecting eternal afterlife…

    Not that this is to say that you are wrong. But does anyone actually have any relevant numbers to offer about the most popular route for deconversion of fundamentalists?

  • 16 Hugo // Jan 29, 2009 at 10:18 am

    Nope, no numbers. This is very much the same as:

    So I know I’m in no position to raise an informed opinion that aims to quantify the amounts of internal criticism in either group. I’m only in a position where I can ask “so where can I contribute?”

    There’s always curiosity, but beyond that, I have no real need for numbers…

  • 17 Kenneth Oberlander // Jan 29, 2009 at 10:23 am

    Aaaaaargh… post-fundamentalists in the second-to-last paragraph.

  • 18 gerhard // Jan 29, 2009 at 11:09 am

    The deconversion.com guys: same story. Many found their way out via moderate religion. Which (a) kinda explains/confirms the fundie’s concerns and warnings about “moderates”, and (b) might actually serve as a good reason why it’s a “good and effective” thing for the atheists to lump them together: creating a them-vs-us scenario might just make moderate religion look safer to the fundies, ensuring it doesn’t get associated with “the evil atheists”…

    sure, but whats the point of swapping one “evil” for another? Fundamentalism like I’ve mentioned before isn’t quite as hypocritical or schizophrenic of a belief. If you think about it , their world model makes far more sense than the moderate ‘mixed’ model.
    Come on “either , god either hid those dinosaur bones to ‘test you’ or satan spread them around to ‘fool’ you” makes more sense in a christain mythology context than ‘any variation of religion ‘ will do along as you believe type.

    look i know you think i’m trying to rile someone here but my point is simply that being a ‘moderate’ christain is a pretty meaningless concept. More often than no ‘moderate christain’ means ‘non-fundamentalist’ so that would group non fundamentalist mormons into that group to.

    So that gives Moderate Christainity a huge variety of belief. From the resurrection to getting your own planet to play god on if you die without having had extramarital sex or even your naturalistic view.

    My issue with moderates is more to do with the arrogance surrounding their beliefs, vocal atheists are more bitching ‘you don’t have any proof, your belief doesn’t make sense, and you’re destructive nature or escapism wants to destroy but in the end , we’ll still accept that some people need it without being happy about it’ unlike anti-theists are more or less like the above but believe that this destructive nature must be stopped because it’s a poison half responsible for the state of affairs in the world. Moderates on the other hand go ‘ we must love , we accept, we must compromise’ if you’re unwilling to compromise , or accept then lets shit as much as we can on your head. So which is it? Compromise or be destroyed(ish)? that uncompromising compromise. (like what you are doing by banning anti-moderates or censoring them) [kinda like banning holocaust deniers which just gives credence to the belief]

    However , now bias comes into play. They already have accepted some form of monotheistic god, so they end up being far more ‘accepting’ or ‘driven to defend’ some truly evil things because they stem from a compromise they were willing to make.

    This has a reallly bad effect on science. If say , scientists speculate in a non theistic way about the world , then they excessively get attacked by theists. The examples i have in my mind is about the topic of ‘why animals such as humans developed a world models who’s variety can only be described as delusional’.

    Another thing that is quite funny is how moderate Christians take offense at atheists actually writing their beliefs down on paper for other atheists or otherwise. How f’d up is it that moderates are more than happy with millions of books filled with what from the atheistic view is ‘hate speech’ and anti-atheist sentiment , but when there is one billionth of a anti-theistic sentiment they turn it into a mini crusade and have the gall of ‘complaining’ as if atheists are acting like moderates?

    Its kinda like beating on the guy who’s calling you a racists in a racist world/time because he’s not following accepted practice.

  • 19 Heidi // Jan 29, 2009 at 11:12 am

    Hugo said:

    “as does the self-awareness exhibited by Heidi’s skepticism of her own conclusions:

    Perhaps it is confirmation or selection bias on my part,..”

    LOL, dit was nie EK wat dit gesê het nie, so lyk maar daar is ‘n bietjie projection van jou kant af, Hugo! :) Ek is nie ‘n ateis, of ‘n moderate, of ‘n fundamentalist nie, so ek is nie seker watter bias aan my toegeskryf kan word in hierdie spesifieke topic nie, indien enige.

    Hugo said:

    “Thus: I’m pretty much staying out of this conversation. Much more interesting to me is the question of how to better enable and promote the internal reflection (and criticism) that is so critical to keeping things in check… be it an individual’s way of life, or an institutionalised fundamentalism, or a political regime, or …”

    Self-ondersoek, veral m.b.t. wat jou motiveer (is dit ego? is dit peer pressure? wat is die voordele vir my en ander? wat is die nadele vir my en ander?), exposure aan verskillende viewpoints en hope, hope EQ.

  • 20 Hugo // Jan 29, 2009 at 12:03 pm

    Ack! Heh, less projection, more pure sloppiness in connecting names with posts. I’ve corrected my comment (using strikeout rather than hiding/deleting my mistake).

  • 21 saneman // Jan 29, 2009 at 2:44 pm

    [Ed: saneman seems to be trolling again, selectively reading and quoting to cause the world and this blog to be interpreted according to the world in his mind. He sounds like a stuck record, *especially* when it comes to squares and circles. Do not encourage.]

    I see Hugo is still making rules about what topics can be invoked. Fundamentalists make decaf believers look bad simple, so they disassociate themselves from them and even try and decaffeinate them, thats good for the moderates as it is great at swelling there ranks.

    heaven forbid this blog being allowed to explore “fundamentalist moderates” so moderate in fact that they almost appear atheist or rational to the untrained eye.

    at least in the fundamentalist’s mind everything checks and balances, compare that to the intellectual dishonesty and mental back flips moderates go through to square the circle.

    Such debates often continue ad nauseum

    It shuts down conversations and erodes any hope this blog has of achieving its primary goal: to encourage critical thinking among fundamentalists

    either it shuts down a conversation or it continues, which one?

    hehe you would think that debating a moderate believer would be more rational and actually be able to come to a conclusion, compared to say a debate with a fundamentalist, who just chooses to put his fingers in his ears.

    and please stop talking all high and mighty about only moderates can talk to fundamentalists. If I debate a fundamentalist it normally ends in either

    fingers in ears(proudly ignorant)

    or

    a stand up emotional fight(thick as pig shit unable to grasp basic logic)

    or lastly tears ,shock and horror
    not from me being rude or aggressive, but of embarrassment of how incredulous they and there parents have been, having there entire life turned upside down.

    Now this is where they should normally start an exciting journey of discovery and logic and reason and understanding of how the real world works.

    But along comes moderates using fluffed up waffle to explain that there really was a historical jesus and how mentions of unicorns should be ignored.

    remember as a kid playing make believe, everyone plays along and runs around the garden pretending to be what ever they are(moderate). Then you always got the kid who took it to far and jumped off the roof(fundamentalist) thinking he could fly and fucking up play time for everyone.

    And this blog exists to address that very problem: the problem of fundamentalism…

    which came first the kid jumping off the roof or the kids playing make believe?

    Sometimes I feel like I’m pulling people out of a burning building, only to have someone convince them that the first floor is safe and usher them back in and that person doesn’t want to hear shit about being told he is/could be causing harm.

    come now hugo stop being such a dictatorial fundamentalist moderate

  • 22 saneman // Jan 29, 2009 at 4:09 pm

    incredulous = credulous

  • 23 Hugo // Jan 29, 2009 at 4:41 pm

    For anyone that lacks the comprehension skills to comprehend my post, “debates often continue ad nauseum” and “shuts down conversations” do not refer to the same conversation. We’re talking about two different conversations, involving different people.

    An example of what I mean by conversations shutting down:

    If I debate a fundamentalist it normally ends in either

    fingers in ears(proudly ignorant)

    or

    a stand up emotional fight(thick as pig shit unable to grasp basic logic)

    or lastly tears ,shock and horror
    not from me being rude or aggressive, but of embarrassment of how incredulous they and there parents have been, having there entire life turned upside down.

    Fingers in ears: that’s a shut-down conversation. (Duh!) An emotional fight: that’s not conversation, that’s an emotional fight. (Duh!)

    Then the third option, which might be considered “not shutting down a conversation”: shock and horror and embarrassment and an entire life being turned upside down: I don’t want to do that here. By all means, go do that elsewhere. But here, I’d like to take and bear responsibility for whatever negative consequences may follow. I want to build friendships and walk a path together. Some atheists turn lives upside down, then say “mission accomplished!” and look for the next person to convert. They’re as bad as the fundies that only care about conversions, rather than people: only care about a person until they’ve converted them, then “ah, mission accomplished, out of my hands now. Another tick on my record”. Much like Jarrod Davidoff. The heavenly bank-account is a metaphor representing a cha-ching in the mind of the person doing the converting, whether he be Christian or atheist. Cha-ching.

    But I digress, the third option isn’t even important to me: I’m talking about option 1 and 2. Thank you saneman for so perfectly explaining and demonstrating what I mean, confirming the main thesis of my post. Much appreciated!

    And for anyone else that also skip over words they don’t want to read: I’m calling these things guidelines, not rules. I’m no dictator. I’m someone making a friendly request/suggestion for other people interested in taking part in my conversation. The likes of gerhard and saneman have been instrumental in postponing the start of Chapter 3, precisely because the open web / blogosphere has the problem that any* imbecile* or teenager* could barge in on any conversation and break it down. I’ve been weighing up many ways I might encourage real conversations between specific people, keeping hecklers out of the inner circle if they’re not explicitly invited. I’ll blog some of those ideas on mengelmoes.org soon.

    *BTW: I described a shoe for rhetorical purposes. Any feet present on which it fits, is pure coincidence and completely unintended. I.e. the first clause and the rest of the sentence need not have any direct connection, apart from a general genre.

  • 24 Hugo // Jan 29, 2009 at 6:43 pm

    I’m still very much too verbose. My previous comment should have read as follows:


    If I debate a fundamentalist it normally ends in either fingers in ears or a stand up emotional fight(thick as pig shit unable to grasp basic logic) …<snip>

    I rest my case.


    Short and sweet and to the point.

  • 25 saneman // Jan 29, 2009 at 6:58 pm

    you know if you talk them down off the roof but still let them play make believe and think myths are fact, they will eventually try jump off another roof.

    keep the make believe, its not thaaaaat dangerous is it?

    Just make sure you keep a strict control of topics else you never know an imbecile or teenager could poke holes in it all day.

    ps3 vs xbox I could understand, but a basis for how you live your life and treat others and make laws… come now

    it shouldn’t be that easy to break down your conversations

  • 26 saneman // Jan 29, 2009 at 7:55 pm

    I have helped a lot of people and undone a lot of mental delusions, what does it help explaining to a person that the unicorns weren’t real but some of the parts which you cherry picked from GOD’S WORD are and some of the people really existed.

    do you believe in santa but not his elves?

    I understand that you use this blog to justify your own beliefs and surround yourself with like minded people and tell others to leave who “break the spell”

    engage: “Anti-Moderates” Rhetoric
    just remember the next time some moron blows himself up or a law is passed based on faith and belief instead of critical thinking, you and rest of the million of the moderates are to blame.
    You give the fundamentalists credibility, and justification because they are doing it for you(the believers).
    dis-engage: “Anti-Moderates” Rhetoric

    As soon as you tell me I cant talk about x I get suspicious of x and the motives of the person who doesn’t want x spoken about.

    I am one of the warning signs on the path you are trying to lead the sheep down.

  • 27 miller // Jan 29, 2009 at 8:14 pm

    I am reminded of yet another post by Greta Christina. She compared two atheist “utopian” visions. One is where everyone, solely through means of persuasion, chooses to give up religion. The other is where all religion is benign. While both of these visions are virtually impossible to achieve, she believes that the former is actually more likely.

    But I think I disagree with Greta’s conclusion. I think the latter vision is more likely (and a combination of both is most likely).

  • 28 Hugo // Jan 29, 2009 at 9:43 pm

    For those not aware of saneman’s viewpoints, let me explain. (saneman, you can correct me where I go wrong.)

    saneman believes there was no historical Jesus. He further seems to believe that anyone that does believe there was a historical Jesus (i.e. a real historical person whose existence/life inspired the movement out of which the so called “New Testament” was written), is deluded, and busy taking “myth as fact”. With that understanding:

    you know if you talk them down off the roof but still let them play make believe and think myths are fact, they will eventually try jump off another roof.

    -> if you believe there was a real historical Jesus (in the same manner you might believe there was a real historical Julius Caesar, or a real historical Alexander the Great) you will eventually try to jump off another roof.

    keep the make believe, its not thaaaaat dangerous is it?

    Sarcasm… suggesting it is dangerous to believe there was a real historical Jesus. Or a real historical… Socrates? How’s that…

    it shouldn’t be that easy to break down your conversations

    What is this, saneman? You’re using an argument from incredulity! Eish man… what an irrational human being.

    Two pieces of empirical evidence of conversations that were broken down:

    • An interesting conversation with Bad Ben ended last year, because of Al Lovejoy’s aggressive anti-Shofarian comments, when we were having a civil discussion about something quite unrelated to what he barged in with.
    • A discussion on the pepper-spraying incident got derailed by an unrelated debate on whether I’m deluded to believe there was a historical Jesus. And whether this is “dangerous”.

    Two counter examples. Picture you’re having a real-life conversation with a good friend. And any teenager could come barge in and interrupt. Anything that can be asserted without evidence can be dismissed without evidence: I reckon I could dismiss saneman’s comment with the counter-statement, “it should be really easy to break down conversations”.

    I have helped a lot of people and undone a lot of mental delusions, what does it help explaining to a person that the unicorns weren’t real but some of the parts which you cherry picked from GOD’S WORD are and some of the people really existed.

    Explaining to a child the psychology behind unicorn belief is helpful. Explaining to the child the truths that are found within ancient mythologies is helpful. These truths and lessons are *real*, even if the story they are learned from is mythological. It is helpful to explain this.

    I understand that you use this blog to justify your own beliefs and surround yourself with like minded people and tell others to leave who “break the spell”

    saneman clearly understands incorrectly. This blog has nothing to do with my own beliefs, and my own beliefs aren’t something I need to justify in any way.

    just remember the next time some moron blows himself up or a law is passed based on faith and belief instead of critical thinking, you and rest of the million of the moderates are to blame.

    -> saneman is saying: when people blow themselves up based on faith rather than critical thinking, we must remember it would be the historical method that is to blame. Oh, sorry saneman, I’ll soften that up for you: the people that believe there was a historical Jesus are to blame.

    You give the fundamentalists credibility, and justification because they are doing it for you(the believers).

    I’m sorry that you seem to have no grasp of what I called a “moderate” here, as your stereotypes suggest. Or that you have any grasp for what I mean by this post as a whole, and why I said it. I know this post is a little misleading, and may come across stronger than I mean it, but people capable of critical thinking should be able to get past that, given some effort and some time to witness the conversations that take place here. In any case, you confirm for me that Die piesangverkoper is correct in at least some instances. Let me translate his first paragraph, comment #2, for the English-speaking:

    I disagree ["differ", literally, nice soft nature of Afrikaans? ;) ] with you where you say “they don’t know how to talk to fundamentalists”. I reckon the Nathan Bonds of this world can only communicate with fundamentalists because they can meet on the same level – there is at least a something of a shared mentality. What they cannot do, is communicate with a moderate that doesn’t fit into their caricature of spirituality. Because of this, they need to somehow lump all moderates into the same bunch as the fundies. That’s the only way that the Dawkins-clones can talk to them.

    I do object to the “Dawkins-clones” metaphor these days: Dawkins thinks more broadly than his “clones”: he’d be all too happy if more Christians were of the thoughtful sophisticated-theologically-informed, according to one quote I have from him (from an article). I’ll share that bit *again* in the near future.

  • 29 terug by die punt « die ander kant // Jan 30, 2009 at 12:13 am

    [...] jy jouself as fundamentalisties beskou en plek soek om te comment, Hugo het jou uitgenooi, maar net ‘n paar comments [...]

  • 30 Hugo // Jan 30, 2009 at 12:52 am

    Thanks miller, again a great link! Part of my pipe dreams involve enabling people to add “See Also” or “Further Reading” links to any blog post, with some social-network-based filtering to promote the good and interesting ones. For now, I’m miniblogging it.

    Notice also: once you start getting busy with things, the ball starts rolling. And it builds up a lot of momentum. My hopes is that I can keep it rolling in the right direction, because if it diverts down a bad path, it becomes very hard to recover from it. The inertia of public opinion/attitude is huge, and a stigma attached to an organisation, an author or a community, is often very hard to wash off. That’s why I’m trying to avoid getting into that in the first place, as difficult as that is going to be.

  • 31 Thomas // Jan 31, 2009 at 3:31 pm

    You seem to be a well-read and well-educated young fellow and by the likes of your scholarly expertise one can understand why you regard the lambasting of fundamentalists to be one of your life-long callings. I say this because highly educated scholars seem to have a natural inclination to lambaste fundamentalists. Dave Hunt wrote:

    “You’re a fundamentalist!” The accusation was directed at me, a freshman in university just out of the military in 1947. From the stinging tone of contempt no explanation was needed to understand that being branded a “fundamentalist” was the ultimate insult in the proud world of academia. I replied something like this: “If to be a fundamentalist means that one adheres to the sound fundamentals of math, accounting, chemistry or whatever one’s profession, then I happily accept the label. And since the Bible is literally God’s Word and inerrant, embracing and standing true to its fundamentals is the only intelligent choice.” That response only increased the frustration and fury on the part of those who had been heatedly debating me for . . . two hours. (http://www.thebereancall.org/node/5809).

    The irony is that the non-fundamentalists are by choice fundamentalists themselves, because they stringently and fundamentally remain true to their own preconceived ideas. In fact, they may be called non-fundamentalist fundamentalists who believe in the fundamentals of anything else but the Bible.

    Would you have been able to name-tag yourself as a memetic engineer if you had not remained true to the fundamentals of Leveious Rolando’s, John Sokol’s, Gibran Burchett’s and Richard Dawkins’ observations?

    Ok! so you are a memetic engineer who seeks to find the good in everything. Have you found any good in the fundamental beliefs of the fundamentalists? Be careful what you answer because it may seriously compromise and even jeopardize your stance.

  • 32 Hugo // Jan 31, 2009 at 8:12 pm

    I’ve never heard of Leveious Rolando, John Sokol or Gibran Burchett. I haven’t read The Selfish Gene. I labelled myself a memetic engineer despite that. There are no “fundamentals” that I’m aware of. I don’t consider any words holy, so I use them to express ideas I’m trying to express, based on how I believe they will be perceived.

    On the word “fundamentalist”, I have written much. See my Fundamentalism tag for previous posts. I completely agree that we’re all “fundamentalistic” about a number of things, and I’m keen that people recognise it. I’m fundamentalistic about compassion and the golden rule, for example. I don’t demonise labels. I don’t smear people black by applying a negative label to them. I don’t consider “fundamentalist” a negative label, I consider it a word that represents a certain concept, and I use that word when I need to refer to the concept, so that I can talk about it. And I aim to talk about it in a balanced manner.

    Have you found any good in the fundamental beliefs of the fundamentalists? Be careful what you answer because it may seriously compromise and even jeopardize your stance.

    Yes, I have. It takes a lot more time and effort to share it in detail, because I have some atheistic fundamentalists as readers that slow me down as well.

    May I ask what is your knee-jerk response here about? How do you define fundamentalist then? How I’m defining it in terms of Christianity these days, is is described in this post. To quote the Crossan quote from that page:

    I like to distinguish between literalism and fundamentalism. [...] A literalist is someone who takes everything in the Bible that could be taken literally, literally. [...] A fundamentalist says “and if you don’t take it literally, you’re not a Christian. And if you say it shouldn’t be taken literally, you’re an anti-Christian.”

    Am I lambasting anyone? Where did I lambaste someone? In this post? Hmm, maybe, though I was mostly talking to (and thus “lambasting”) atheistic fundamentalists this time round.

    With regards to this comment:

    And since the Bible is literally God’s Word and inerrant, embracing and standing true to its fundamentals is the only intelligent choice.

    You should be able to deduce I don’t take the Bible in as literal a fashion. I see it as written by many people, by humans… I consider Paul’s letters to be Paul’s letters. He even states so himself iirc: “it is I that say these things, I may be wrong”. I consider there to be “contradictions” if you read it in a literal sense, and personally find that an untenable position to take. So given that, how do you label me?

    Please explain to me what my stance is, and how my comments might jeopardise it? Or are you stereotyping me, judging me without getting to know me first?

  • 33 Hugo // Jan 31, 2009 at 9:22 pm

    All that said, welcome Thomas! I’m happy you stopped by, I hope you enjoy or find some value in your stay. We don’t all have the same opinions here, we have a diverse community. I’m trying to encourage everyone to co-exist peacefully so that we can have interesting conversations, but I do often struggle to keep things civil.

    I’ll happily have a conversation about where we differ, about how you see things, about how we see things, about how you see the way we see things and how we see the way you see things. ;-)

    … Touching again on how I see the Bible:

    I see I haven’t written a decent post on “All scripture is God-breathed” yet. The post that I have written with that title was more about a particular real-world interaction than about the verse itself. In particular, that post doesn’t seem to say much about the things I’d like to talk about, e.g. the ways in which I agree with it (and the perspectives I can defend), and the ways in which I don’t agree with it (perspectives I find untenable).

    In short, to expand on my previous comment about “humans writing the Bible”, I should add that it would be “humans writing it, writing about their relationship with their God, or their understanding of God”. Thus I’m happy seeing the text as “inspired writing”, for my understanding of those words.

    …..

    I took a quick look at your blog to get some idea of where you’re coming from. I read that you’re unwelcome on pastor Attie Nel’s blog. I also see you consider the following people to be “false teachers”: “Brian McLaren, Doug Pagitt, Rob Bell, Tony Jones, Rick Warren and many more.”

    Hehe, what an interesting combination. I love Brian McLaren and Rob Bell. Tony Campolo is cool, but for me, maybe even a little “too conservative”! (You also mentioned him, being very critical of what I’d call “his bravery with regards to openly showing his compassion and love towards, and an attempts to understand, homosexuals”.) I also love Marcus Borg and John Dominic Crossan, you may want to criticise them on your blog as well: you’d probably find them to be even worse than McLaren. They’re Bible scholars, after all, I’m sure you know how those guys get. ;)

    But then, Rick Warren? You find him too “liberal” as well? I take a number of issues with some of his claims, and consider him too conservative, in particular: in denial of science, if I recall correctly. (I’m trying to remember what Dan Dennett said in his TED talk about Rick Warren’s book.)

    So, all that said, you should have a better idea of how much we’d conflict if we were to start arguing. (You thought you’re in conflict with Cobus? On this site, you’d find much, much “worse”.)

    So I’m now scratching my head and wondering in what directions we could steer the conversation that would still provide something of interest to both sides, and not get bogged down in silly debates. We need to both come at it from a position of acceptance with regards to a difference of opinion, humbly and carefully. I suspect you might like coming at it with “Well, the truth is as follows, because the Bible says so: …” That will typically lead down a rather stereotypical path that I feel will not be of much benefit. Especially if the atheists get involved. Can we be more exploratory?

    Here are the things that I’m curious about:

    • How do you feel about the “fundamentalist” label? If we were to refrain from all the negativity added to it, would you, or do you in any case, wear the label with pride?

    I suspect (based on what I understand from too briefly reading your blog) that you’d believe “McLaren et al” are going to hell, are not “real Christians”. As such, by the definition I take these days, I do think that label applies to you? (Oh, and I’m probably also going to hell.)

    • Have you read any of the books by the guys mentioned above? Have you read anything by Brian McLaren or Rob Bell? Would you be interested in reading some John Dominic Crossan?

    More specifically, would you be interested? I’m thinking of trying to get a book club or something going, with a couple of people from diverse backgrounds reading interesting things together and sharing their impressions of it. I’d love to see what you make of the McLaren, Borg and Crossan books I’ve read so far or am busy reading.

    But it’s always hard: we all lack time, and we don’t all want to read the same things. (I ponder things like: What books might you suggest, that I would feel I have time for? – and I don’t think there would be many.) Oh well…

    I do come up with some other interesting lines of thought/inquiry, but I can’t shape them into questions that would lead to a discussion I’d find particularly interesting.

    If you’d like to ask some questions of me, please do. If you can manage to keep the discussion interesting for me, that’d be great! But my experiences and stereotypes in my head have a tendency to make me just a little bit pessimistic. If it “goes south”, and some of the atheists that hang out here bite into the discussion, I’d probably sit back and watch the carnage and try to not get involved.

    Oh… wait, I have another question that’s of particular interest:

    • I would love to hear what your opinion is of this blog post I discovered recently: How To Actually Talk To Atheists (If You’re Christian). What impression does it give, do you think that post has any value?
    • And one more: If (or rather, *when*, says the pessimist) this discussion goes south, can you come up with any ideas or insights as to what I could implement, assuming I can make the website do anything, being a programmer, to structure conversations to keep them interesting? (For example: I’m thinking mostly along the lines of more clearly defining conversations as being between certain people, making it harder for uninvited people to derail a conversation. Also, trying to get people to know those they argue a bit better.)

    On getting to know you: I’d love to ask your age, but that’s possibly rude. (E.g.: I’m late twenties.) I’d like to know more about your “spiritual history”: where did you learn what you learned about the Bible, what churches you attended, etc. (E.g.: I have something of a fundie past, at single digit age even some Rhema influence. Most of my education came through books, the fundie past was via Cross and the Switchblade and a number of related books, and a couple of months at Shofar. Breaking free from Shofar and my fundie past, the pendulum swung a bit the other way. Lately I’ve been reading those “post-modern false teachers” I mentioned above.)

    Sorry about my verbosity in the previous two comments. And you’re actually welcome to talk about anything you like, I just hope we can have an interesting conversation before it goes down the stereotypical path.

    Shalom!

  • 34 Thomas // Jan 31, 2009 at 10:08 pm

    You made a general statement about fundamentalism in your introductory statement, implying that you regard all forms of fundamentalism – or at least in religion – to be a big [em]problem[/em] . . . . “and consequently what to [em]do[/em] about the problem.” Therefore your startled question “Am I lambasting anyone? is rather a bit theatrical.

    As a Christian who believes in the fundamental truths of the Bible I regard your introductory statement as “lambasting” my faith. Nonetheless, I personally wouldn’t interpret your lambasting in terms of Crossan’s definition of a problem, i.e. “There is a path from ideological fundamentalism through rhetorical fundamentalism to physical fundamentalism, a path capable of escalating ideology to the point of violence or genocide. Crossan illustrates such escalation through the example of Mein Kampf and the Nazis.” However, Muslim fundamentalists may very well see your loaded word “problem” as something akin to “an infection,” or to “germs” or “viruses” and assume that you want to do something about the “problem.” which, in the long run, may even lead to violence. You see, my friend words or semantics of any kind will mean something different to different people, depending on which side of the road you are.

    Allow me to give you an example. Dr. Tony Campolo, whom the Moreleta Park Dutch Reformed Church invited to address them in February, maintains that someone who denies that Christ is in every single person is a fascist and a demon. He may not have taken the opportunity to think it through before making such a statement, because, if he had, he would have known that his ill-advised statement bears the mark of blasphemy for it implies that both Jesus and Paul were demons. (Hopefully you know your Bible so that you can verify my statement). Now! apply this to Mohammad and Islam. Perish the thought. We all hate violence, don’t we?

    Bear with me for just another little paragraph. Would you say that Jesus was a fundamentalist when taking into account his famous words: “I am athe way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me”?

    How can I know you? I haven’t met you, but your mental affiliation with Dominic Crossan gives me a pretty good idea of who I’m dealing with.

  • 35 Hugo // Jan 31, 2009 at 11:12 pm

    Thomas:

    You made a general statement about fundamentalism in your introductory statement, implying that you regard all forms of fundamentalism – or at least in religion – to be a big [em]problem[/em] . . . . “and consequently what to [em]do[/em] about the problem.” Therefore your startled question “Am I lambasting anyone? is rather a bit theatrical.

    Ah, I see. Mea culpa. I probably should go back and re-read my posts when I get comments I don’t quite understand the context of, but how many times should I re-read what I write? ;-)

    I’ll refine my statement: I do consider fundamentalism to be a problem. I don’t consider considering it a problem the same as lambasting it. (lambaste: To scold, reprimand or criticize harshly; To give a thrashing to; to beat severely). Additionally, what I’m referring to with “fundamentalism” in one post, might differ from what I’m referring to in another. In this post I very much had atheists in mind.

    “Fundamentalism” in the context of this post refers to the kind of people that fly into buildings with planes, and the kind of people that make it their life calling to undermine science education. I consider those things to be “big problems”. Merely having fundamentals is not a “big problem”.

    I acknowledge:

    As a Christian who believes in the fundamental truths of the Bible I regard your introductory statement as “lambasting” my faith.

    We have different subjective experiences of what constitutes a lambasting. And as something of a post-modernist, I don’t believe there is an objective truth to whether it is “lambasting” or not, so I think it silly to continue arguing about it. I’d rather accept diversity in words.

    So I do dislike a rejection of science. I don’t exactly hold it against the believer or their faith, I understand where it comes from, how it works. I do appreciate the situation. And I distinguish between my attitudes towards the faith and the people, as I do towards the abstract “anti-science sentiment”. And even then, I feel I don’t lambaste anti-science sentiments, I just address them. In the same fashion as I’d say: “I consider illiteracy a problem” is not the same as lambasting illiteracy.

    How does that sound, does that clear up my views on the “lambasting” thing a bit? You need not agree with my opinion, I just hope you can understand how my opinion works.

    You see, my friend words or semantics of any kind will mean something different to different people, depending on which side of the road you are.

    Indeed. Makes it rather hard to write. How do I refer to something I consider a “problem” without having that idea escalate? In the end, the only thing I can hope for, is that we can clear up such things in conversations like these…

    Dr. Tony Campolo [...] maintains that someone who denies that Christ is in every single person is a fascist and a demon

    Now see, I don’t believe that. I believe that is spin: precisely another instance of “words or semantics of any kind will mean something different to different people” — and has more to do with how those words were perceived by e.g. you. I read some of your posts on your blog, for example, and it seems you’re not keeping in mind that very thing you warned about. You want to see their words in the worst possible light, not so?

    What if we refine it to “there is a little bit of Jesus to be found in everyone”? Rather than an all-out “everyone already has Jesus”. How does that differ from “Look, I stand at your door and I knock”… the door to your heart, he’s already there, knocking? Given a certain perspective… Wouldn’t it be “demonic” or fascist or racist to say that you simply cannot find Jesus in a Muslim household? Isn’t he everywhere? Wouldn’t he be right there, dining with them?

    Would you say that Jesus was a fundamentalist when taking into account his famous words: “I am athe way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me”?

    According to Matthew: “…he answered and said, I am not sent but unto the lost sheep of the house of Israel.” So, unless you’re Jewish, Jesus wasn’t talking to you.

    Tell me, was Jesus talking the truth here?

    I haven’t met you, but your mental affiliation with Dominic Crossan gives me a pretty good idea of who I’m dealing with.

    Hehe. Don’t measure Dominic Crossan by who I am. I’m much more of a heathen than he! I’m an impure person, a sinner… if I were in your area, would you be prepared to dine with me?

  • 36 Hugo // Feb 1, 2009 at 12:41 am

    Wait a minute… Thomas, from your blog, what you quote from Tony Campolo:

    The minute you start saying that God isn’t in some people, you’re on the verge of Fascism. Why? Erich Fromm saw that. The minute you can look at somebody and say God isn’t in him–he is only in Christians—that person is pure demon.

    You fail the comprehension test, Thomas, sorry. He is not saying “the minute you can look at somebody and say God isn’t in him”, that you are the demon, he is saying that the act of saying God isn’t in someone is one of demonising them, of saying they are pure demon.

    If you’re going to be misquoting people like that, how could you possibly expect to build good relationships with people in this life, live with a loving heart to your nearest neighbours? In fact, how could you even expect to understand the Bible, if you can’t understand what Tony was saying? Why has your heart grown hard?

  • 37 Hugo // Feb 1, 2009 at 12:46 am

    The parable of the Samaritan, and the teachings on “purity”… Jesus’ contemporaries were very big on their purity. In their piety, in their observance of their relationships with God, they would not touch the impure. They would not eat with sinners. They would not help a dead-looking person by the side of the road. A Samaritan, on the other hand, one who doesn’t have God according to the beliefs of Jesus’ contemporaries, helped out the Samaritan. And Jesus asked… who is nearer God? He that you demonise by saying “he doesn’t have God”, or those that so self-righteously observe all the commandments?

    The New Testament can also be interpreted as commandments, you know. “He who uses the right words to be born again, only he has God. Those that don’t use the right words, they don’t have God, they’re pure demon.” — No, they’re Samaritans. Wish that all Christians could be more like the Samaritans…

  • 38 Thomas // Feb 1, 2009 at 10:07 am

    Perhaps you should read my comment on my blog again. Here is the quote:

    The minute you start saying that God isn’t in some people, you’re on the verge of Fascism. Why? Erich Fromm saw that. The minute you can look at somebody and say God isn’t in him–he is only in Christians—that person is pure demon.”

    “The saying” goes with “on the verge of facsism” and the “look” goes with “pure demon.”

    Jesus taught us not to revile others when they revile you but I would like to remind you of your own words:

    If you’re going to be misquoting people like that, how could you possibly expect to build good relationships with people in this life, live with a loving heart to your nearest neighbours? In fact, how could you even expect to understand the Bible, if you can’t understand what Tony was saying? Why has your heart grown hard?

    I aim to answer your comment on the good Samaritan sometime later. I don’t have the time now.

  • 39 Thomas // Feb 1, 2009 at 10:08 am

    Sorry I made a mistake in my previous comment. I want to blockquote the quotes but in stead emboldened them. How do I do it?

    Thanks

  • 40 Hugo // Feb 1, 2009 at 12:36 pm

    I fixed it for ya. You have to type out <blockquote> and </blockquote>.

    But I don’t get what you’re saying, sorry. It seems you’re admonishing me for misquoting you? But I can’t find where I did that. I really can’t, and I looked, three times

    I don’t understand what “The saying” goes with “on the verge of facsism” and the “look” goes with “pure demon.” is referring to. It looks to me like it is saying “the first sentence is the first sentence, the second sentence is the second sentence”. (To which I’d reply “um, of course…?” — so I don’t think think I’m understanding you here.)

    The best I can do to make sense of this is to recap and rephrase:

    The minute you can look at somebody and say God isn’t in him–he is only in Christians—that person is pure demon.”

    Yes… you’re looking at someone, that person you’re looking at “becomes pure demon” in your eyes, if you say “God isn’t in him”. (Whereas it seems you misunderstood this sentence to be saying “The minute you do that kind of looking, *you* are pure demon”. Basically, “that person” goes with “somebody” and “he”, it doesn’t go with “you”.

    But this is really a silly thing to argue about. And if you misunderstand to easily, I do still wonder whether there is much point in arguing.

    revile: To attack (someone) with abusive language

    To any of my regulars reading this: recognise why I’m usually so careful about my phrasing, and so sensitive to “aggressive” wording. I can recognise mine was a little aggressive, I meant it more as an admonishment, i.e. a reprimand. But things get perceived to be worse than they were meant. (Abusive language, attack…) Fair enough. But then the example of my first reference to “a problem” became a “lambasting”.

    lambaste: To scold, reprimand or criticize harshly; To give a thrashing to; to beat severely

    I know all too well that it can be a futile exercise trying to soften your language to the point where the person you’re communicating with is unable to pull it out of proportion, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t try our best. We should really be as friendly as is possible.

    Now including Thomas in the conversation again: looking back, I really can’t see how I could have convinced myself to be friendlier. I consider fundamentalism a problem, simple as that. If you perceive a thrashing, it would be your own perceptions thrashing you, not my words. In the case of this “reviling”, you consider that paragraph to be “abusive behaviour” on my part. Um… don’t let that get in the way of the concern I’m trying to raise: you don’t seem to be able to understand things correctly. You seem to want to understand it in a way that you can demonise the author. It seems your heart has grown hard?

    I look forward to seeing your perspective on the good Samaritan.

  • 41 Thomas // Feb 1, 2009 at 2:12 pm

    As I said before: semantics and the interpretation of words or sentences depend on which side of the road you are.

    For the universalist who believes that Christ lives in every single human being, regardless of what religion they adhere to, the phrase “that person is pure demon” applies to the fundamentalist who looks at someone and says “God isn’t in him.” However, when the roles are switched the phrase “that person is pure demon” applies to the person whom the fundamentalist accuses of not having God. In this case he fundamentalist would be the one who says “that person who claims to have Christ in him is pure demon.” Hence your obeservation: “A Samaritan, on the other hand, one who doesn’t have God according to the beliefs of Jesus’ contemporaries, helped out the Samaritan. And Jesus asked… who is nearer God? He that you demonize by saying “he doesn’t have God”, or those that so self- righteously observe all the commandments?”

    The irony is that the person, according Campolo, who does not know that Christ lives in him cannot possibly verbalize or witness to the fact that Christ lives in him, the result being that the fundamentalist cannot possibly accuse him of being demonic. How can you demonize a person who does not know and therefore cannot witness to the fact that Jesus lives inside him? Someone like Tony Campolo would have to tell you that a certain person has Christ in him before the fundamentalist is capable of making any sound deductions. Imagine then the following conversation between Campolo, a fundamentalist and a Buddhist and a Muslim.

    Campolo: Mr fundamentalist, you may not agree, but these two gentleman both have Christ in their innermost beings. They just do not know it yet.
    Mr. Muslim: What! I refuse to believe that God has a son. There is only One God. How can a person who calls himself Christ live inside me whom I do not believe even exists as a god? He may have been a prophet but he is not God and therefore cannot live in me.”
    Mr Buddhist: Yes! Christ may have been a prophet but Buddha’s spirit lives in me.
    Mr. Fundamentalist: “Mr. Campolo, how do you expect me to make any comments when they themselves admit that Christ, the Son of God, does not live in them?”

    If Christ was already living in men, women and children without them knowing it, is would mean that He forced His way in – gate-crashed, as it were, their hearts. Jesus Christ will never do such a thing because he honors en respects a person’s divinely gifted free-will.

    Tony Campolo sets the tone for the real meaning of “that person has a demon” in his statement “The minute you start saying that God isn’t in some people, you’re on the verge of Fascism. Why? Erich Fromm saw that.”

    The parable of the Good Samaritan has two levels – a direct or physical level and a spiritual level. The first concerns every born-again Christian who reaches out to people in need of daily living amenities, such as food and shelter, etc. The second, the spiritual level, concerns Jesus Christ who, like the Good Samaritan was an Outcast, reached out to people who have fallen by the way in sin; who was willing to seek and to save people who were perishing in their lost status. Has he found you yet Hugo?

  • 42 Bendul // Feb 1, 2009 at 3:13 pm

    Hmmm.

    (the strong form, I sometimes use a softened version of the term)

    Hugo in the first line of your post, where you described fundamentalism as a problem: what exactly is this softened version you refer to? An undisclosed adjective? A non-literalist interpretation of fundamentalism that you employ in your own musings?

    I struggled to interpret your intended meaning here; my suspicion is that this might be where the semantics went wrong. Anyways: I have picked up a tone in the blog recently that seems a bit “anti-shofar-fundamentalism”. However when it comes to the crunch it seems clear this is not your intention (all deduced from the above conversation).

    I could explain this as projected paranoia on the part of the “fundamentalist”. Shofarians (in general) are quite accustomed to the label “fundamentalist” being flung at them. One of the biggest problems is that the (average) fundamentalist sees “fundamentalism” not as something they are proud of, and want to protect from lambasting- but rather as a dismissive term, used by people who are ignorant of their (self-perceived) rational motivations for eg. believing the earth is 6000 years old. (hehe; even though I did at a stage consider printing “proudly fundAMENtalist” t-shirts – eek)

    To conclude: I think that the fundamentalist projects a personal dislike of his own labelling onto the label itself; therefore if you even mention the label outside of explicitly clear context, odds are it will offend.

  • 43 Bendul // Feb 1, 2009 at 4:07 pm

    Sorry to get involved chaps:

    But Thomas: You are still misreading the Campolo quote. pure demon can in no syntactic way be justified as referring to the fascist who denies God’s presence in other people. It refers to the antithesis of someone who does actually have Christ in them in the dualism that Campolo uses.

  • 44 Bendul // Feb 1, 2009 at 4:21 pm

    So what I am trying to say is that Campolo states:

    If a person has 0% God in them; they are 100% demon. Pretty justifiable if you consider it to be true that humans were created in God’s image…

    I have not read Campolo and hope you don’t misconstrue my attempt at deciphering the author’s meaning as defense of his theology. I just don’t agree with your deduction.

  • 45 Hugo // Feb 1, 2009 at 6:39 pm

    Bendul, thanks for getting involved. ;-) I’m losing interest in this particular conversation, I would be curious to see what you’d make of it, should you decide it is worth it to pursue it. I’ll get back to your questions in a moment.

    Thomas, I’m no longer interested in talking about Campolo, because your interpretation of what he’s saying makes absolutely no sense to me.

    What I’d like to know, is whether you actually have any Buddhist friends. I have one that’s explicitly a Buddhist, and another that spent some time at a Buddhist monastery. I’m pretty sure the second would be all too happy to confirm that Campolo’s way of seeing things is pretty sweet, he wouldn’t fight it. They’d both rather point out the similarities between Jesus and Buddha’s teachings.

    Do you know any Muslims? I’m trying to think if I do. I know I’ve got some Muslim colleagues, we’re all working together to make a positive difference in the world. I’ll go chat to them some time.

    Would you disagree that the Samaritan had the seed of the kingdom of heaven in his heart, like you’d disagree that a Muslim might? You must remember, the people Jesus told the story to, viewed Samaritans in the same light as you might view a Muslim, or an atheist, or me… right?

    You haven’t answered my question about the words the author of Matthew attributes to Jesus: “I am not sent but unto the lost sheep of the house of Israel.”

    For the rest, I’d be happy if you ignore me, and answer Bendul instead.

    Bendul, it is no secret that I take issues with a number of Shofar’s teachings. I do take issue with the fundamentalist mindset. I consider it a problem. But I honestly don’t mean to confuse that abstract problem with a particular congregation, its leaders, or its members. Is that clear enough? I could try and think up a good simile/metaphor for this, but the ones I can come up with at this instant are quite bad. (As in, one that doesn’t extrapolate well, “useless”: what does a tomato and a human have in common? They both have red “blood”. yay.)

    To get to your question then:

    what exactly is this softened version you refer to? An undisclosed adjective? A non-literalist interpretation of fundamentalism that you employ in your own musings?

    I sometimes broaden/soften fundamentalism to refer to anything we hold dear and fundamental: a bigger-picture version of the label to try and include as many people as possible, in an attempt to destigmatise the label a bit.

    Anyways: I have picked up a tone in the blog recently that seems a bit “anti-shofar-fundamentalism”. However when it comes to the crunch it seems clear this is not your intention (all deduced from the above conversation).

    A couple of examples of what I’m against, i.e. what I disagree with, in the abstract, not connected to any particular institution or any particular people:

    – the abuse and/or rejection of science, education, and critical thinking, because I do think these things are of utmost importance
    – the “demonising” (soft version, metaphorical) of other people that don’t believe the same things — this is quite a broad point, it falls under compassion, loving your neighbour… it also connects with:
    – a lack of compassion and understanding towards homosexuals

    These things I do consider “a problem”, and in the context of the above post, which I wrote very much with atheists in mind, I picked a label that portrays these things to them. These are abstract things, ideas, memes, that anyone can hold in their minds, and I don’t mean to hold it against them, or against the institution that bears and propagates an institutionalised version of these ideas. But I do mean to address this “problem”, this that I consider to be a problem. It will become problematic when people feel I’m attacking their very identity, in the process of doing what I can to raise awareness.

    I think I’ve used the “poverty” example before. Poverty is another thing I consider a problem. Much of it is caused by our politics and by our economics, socio-economics… but I’m not anti-government because of it. The government tries its best (we hope… else we vote another party into power, in an ideal world…), so I won’t overthrow the government because of it. I would lobby for changes though.

    How does that sound?

    The inevitable “clash” comes when one wonders if Shofar is able to change their views on these things. Sometimes I sit back and realise it would need quite a miracle for them to let go of young-earth creationism. If they can’t let go of it, the only way it would “leave” is if Shofar “leaves” with it. This is a line of thinking I try to avoid, it is a line of thinking that could lead to anti-Shofar attitudes, which I also try to avoid. My realm of contribution is in stretching out a hand and inviting people to explore science, to explore compassion, to explore relationships with people that they’ve only had the opportunity to hear bad things about.

    In fact, I’d invite you, if you’re interested, to read Acid Alex with me… I have no idea what to expect, but I do believe he’s not quite as aggressive and anti in his book as he was in the comment thread. Anyway, FWIW, it’s just a thought.

    One of the biggest problems is that the (average) fundamentalist sees “fundamentalism” not as something they are proud of, and want to protect from lambasting- but rather as a dismissive term, used by people who are ignorant of their (self-perceived) rational motivations for eg. believing the earth is 6000 years old. (hehe; even though I did at a stage consider printing “proudly fundAMENtalist” t-shirts – eek)

    To conclude: I think that the fundamentalist projects a personal dislike of his own labelling onto the label itself; therefore if you even mention the label outside of explicitly clear context, odds are it will offend.

    Acknowledged, and thanks. I did try to avoid the label in the past, I will return to trying to avoid it in the future. In retrospect it would probably have been prudent to “expand” the label a bit in the post above. Thanks for your input.

    Truce?

  • 46 Thomas // Feb 1, 2009 at 7:22 pm

    I can only agree with the fundamental words of one of the greatest fundamentalists who ever lived – Paul of Tarsus who once said.

    Even him, whose coming is after the working of Satan with all power and signs and lying wonders, And with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish; because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved. And for this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie:</b That they all might be damned who believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness (2 Thess 2:9-12)

    Any parent who sees his child being destroyed by drugs and alcohol will do everything in his power to rescue him. However, when that child refuses to be rescued, there is only one thing left to do and that is to leave him to his own devices. Anyone who persists in his rebellion against God and His salvation will eventually end up in a maze of lies, thinking it to be the truth.

    Hugo. You don’t seem to know what true love is. True love toward your fellowman is to proclaim the Gospel (Good News) of Jesus Christ who was crucified in their behalf so that they may be saved for all eternity. The very opposite of true love is to deny that Christ died on the cross to save fallen man from eternal hell fire.

  • 47 Bendul // Feb 1, 2009 at 7:23 pm

    truce?

    Sounds like we had a fight Hugo!

    Dude, I think you underestimate my sympathyfor your cause!

  • 48 Thomas // Feb 1, 2009 at 7:24 pm

    Bendul, do you actually believe that Christ lives in all people, regardless of their religion?

  • 49 Thomas // Feb 1, 2009 at 7:36 pm

    Neither the old earth nor new earth theory will get you to heaven. However, the fundamental truths expounded in the Bible will, which are:-

    a) Jesus is the only Savior of Mankind (those that believe on His Name).
    b) He was born of a virgin, crucified, buried and rose again from amongst the dead, ascended into heaven to sit at the right hand of His Father from whence He will come to judge everyone who rejects Him as Savior.
    c) The Bible is the eternal, inerrant and infallible Word of God.
    d) Repentance and faith toward Christ and His Gospel is the only way to be saved.

  • 50 Hugo // Feb 1, 2009 at 8:06 pm

    OK, spectators, if there are any, read #46 again, in particular, that piece by Paul. Paul is talking about those who are interested in truth. Notice how that exact passage applies to both sides. That’s why I like the Bible so, it bears so much truth.

    Sorry Thomas, you know we disagree on this. Some believe you’re the one that has been dragged into a delusion, because you lack a love of the truth… you might equally be lost in a maze of lies, thinking it to be the truth.

    True love toward your fellowman is to proclaim the Gospel (Good News) of Jesus Christ who was crucified in their behalf so that they may be saved for all eternity. The very opposite of true love is to deny that Christ died on the cross to save fallen man from eternal hell fire.

    I share the sentiments Penn shares in this youtube video clip: Penn Says: A Gift of a Bible.

    My understanding of the gospel is different from yours. I believe Jesus didn’t preach about getting out of hell, he preached on “bringing God’s kingdom to earth”. And this I try to share. I’d love to share it with you as well, but I don’t know how, it is beyond my ability/power. It is in God’s hands.

    You think I have a false gospel, I think you have a false gospel. You think I don’t have what you call true love… that’s fine, my idea of “true love” is different from yours as well.

    If we can find a way to communicate despite this difference of opinion, there’s value in it. Otherwise, this is a rather pointless discussion…

    @Bendul: you know, just as I hit publish, I thought “hey, truce is the wrong word, I should go change it”. And on my way there, I got sidetracked by something else. Ugh. ADD? ;-)

    @Thomas: I don’t care about getting to heaven, there are enough things to care about here on earth.

    However, the fundamental truths expounded in the Bible will, which are:-

    Sorry, I find different fundamental truths in the Bible. One I see, is that humans, in their flawed (sinful) nature, will always want to be “the special ones”, the “saved” ones, to look at everyone else (othering) as not-as-good-as-them. The Jewish idea of a Messiah was someone that would come on a white horse, and set all things right with power and might. Jesus showed the opposite: he showed that we should not wait for that kind of messiah, we should be prepared to pick up our crosses, the bad things that life throws our way, and recognise the kingdom that is already here, to be found in the strangest places, and help it come. He showed that we should not strive to be “the pure ones” (like Pharisees), and instead reach out to those we have marginalised and demonised, and recognise they are also divine image bearers. (Connecting with the “created in God’s image” idea here.)

    I share RLP’s sentiments as well:

    If there is a hell, it seems to be a place for religious hypocrites. The OVERWHELMING New Testament witness is that hell is where bad and hypocritical people go. The idea that hell is a place for people who do not accept Jesus as their savior is simply not in the New Testament. If you are going to believe in hell, believe also in what Jesus said about who is going there.

    That’s an extract. Please read that post if you want the whole context. We can both watch all four videos (linked at the bottom of that post) and use that as a talking point for any further discussion, if you’d like.

  • 51 Bendul // Feb 2, 2009 at 12:22 am

    Bendul, do you actually believe that Christ lives in all people, regardless of their religion?

    That depends on what you mean by “Christ lives in them”. If you mean reborn, of spirit, and therefore “alive in Christ Jesus” becoming more like Him by the indwelling of the Spirit; I guess it is unlikely that another Religion would lead down that path.

    But if the meaning is that God is the creator of all things created through Christ Jesus; that all things were created by Him, for Him, and to Him, and man was created in the image of God then I guess we are pretty much all on the same page. The only difference in being reborn is accepting the Grace to become that which one has been predestined to become.

    Anyways. This is the kind of theological quibbling I don’t care too much about.

    Just reread Hugo’s post. Not sure Im FULLY with him over whether people who do not accept Christ’s invitation will NOT be going to hell. Still struggling to apply my paradoxical (at best!) understanding of God’s Goodness and His Severity to that one. However I do agree with Hugo bad and Hypocritical people will end up in Hell; aswell as many of the other points he made.

    However I kind of got the idea that you guys are kind of polar opposites of the gospel, maybe?
    Maybe the “Heaven to earth” gospel and the “people to Heaven” gospel aren’t mutually exclusive? are they?

  • 52 Hugo // Feb 2, 2009 at 2:06 am

    ;-) Who knows… who knows. But I certainly do like your summary of the situation. I’m quite certain there are a number of points you and I disagree strongly on, Bendul, but how boring it would be without that!

  • 53 Bendul // Feb 2, 2009 at 9:28 am

    Hugo:

    I fear you might be dissapointed with how unvehemently I disagree with you over the few points I actually do. By far on the majority of points we’ll agree quite amicably!

    Those we don’t I will most probably be somewhat uncertain of at this stage of my walk. Don’t you just love it when people accuse you of being “Confused” (read: God is not confused…) when you admit you don’t know.understand everything; and are unwilling to uncritically swallow other’s opinions that you find unconvincing?

    Before I get cynical I should stop…

  • 54 Bendul // Feb 2, 2009 at 7:14 pm

    Anyways.

    Back to the (in my opinion) Goal of this post: Musing about what the value of a discursive space such as Hugo envisions:

    Personally I appreciate the cathartic nature of my interaction on the blog. I am constantly faced with people who feel differently than I do about things important to me. I don’t know if the following makes of me an intellectual pansy or a emo-kid (I do enjoy wearing tight [read:spray-on] jeans); but it upsets me every time. And here is the telling thing: How I want to react. More and more I actually step back and try to get a sense of meta-perspective.

    In other words, I appreciate the blog as a tool for self-critique; more than anything. It’s so telling when you travel back in time and read your responses to certain comments. Crazy.

  • 55 Bendul // Feb 2, 2009 at 7:44 pm

    ja:

    And another thing I thought about recently:

    People’s responses expose my presumptively dismissive attitude towards those who “don’t think like me”.

    The world would be a much better place if we all stopped assuming that we “knew our enemies”. You don’t know me or how I think, I don’t know you and how I think; let stop pigeonholing each other.

    That’s why I appreciate the value that Hugo places on Dialogism so much…

  • 56 Bendul // Feb 2, 2009 at 7:46 pm

    “It is not from ourselves that we learn to be better than we are.”

    -Wendell Berry

  • 57 Thomas // Feb 2, 2009 at 9:28 pm

    My understanding of the gospel is different from yours. I believe Jesus didn’t preach about getting out of hell, he preached on “bringing God’s kingdom to earth”.

    There is not a single verse or even the slightest hint in the Bible that man is supposed to usher in or even to assist God in the establishment of His Kingdom on earth. The Lord taught us to merely pray for the establishment of His Kingdom on earth. In fact, the Lord’s Prayer teaches that God alone will usher in His Kingdom. “Let thy Kingdom come” cannot possibly be misconstrued as something we have to do. Jesus Christ alone will “Let God’s Kingdom come on earth and let His will be done as it is in heaven.”

    I say this on the good authority of King Nebuchadnezzar’s dream in the book of Daniel which is actually a prophecy or prediction to teach mankind that his best intentions and endeavors to bring about lasting peace, stability and prosperity on earth will always fail, and fail dismally.

    Neither the Babylonian, Medo-Persian, Grecian and Roman empires or any other kingdom for that matter were able to establish a perfect Utopian society on earth. Now notice Daniel’s narration of the dream as God revealed it to him.

    You, O king, saw, and behold, [there was] a great image. . . . As for this image, its head was of fine gold, its breast and its arms of silver, its belly and its thighs of bronze, Its legs of iron, its feet partly of iron and partly of clay [the baked clay of the potter]. As you looked, a Stone was cut out without human hands, which smote the image on its feet of iron and [baked] clay [of the potter] and broke them to pieces. Then the iron, the [baked] clay [of the potter], the bronze, the silver, and the gold were broken and crushed together and became like the chaff of the summer threshing floors, and the wind carried them away so that not a trace of them could be found. And the Stone that smote the image became a great mountain or rock and filled the whole earth.

    The Stone that will smite the present “aion” (world system) which is rapidly being fused into a one-world government, a one-world religion and a one-world political system under the Antichrist and his cohorts is not you or I or Brian Mclaren, or Tony Campolo, or Rick Warren nor the Emerging Church – it is Jesus Christ the Son of God.

    Sorry, I find different fundamental truths in the Bible. One I see, is that humans, in their flawed (sinful) nature, will always want to be “the special ones”, the “saved” ones, to look at everyone else (othering) as not-as-good-as-them. The Jewish idea of a Messiah was someone that would come on a white horse, and set all things right with power and might. Jesus showed the opposite: he showed that we should not wait for that kind of messiah, we should be prepared to pick up our crosses, the bad things that life throws our way, and recognise the kingdom that is already here, to be found in the strangest places, and help it come. He showed that we should not strive to be “the pure ones” (like Pharisees), and instead reach out to those we have marginalised and demonised, and recognise they are also divine image bearers. (Connecting with the “created in God’s image” idea here.)

    You have an uncanny way of pinpointing certain essential and fundamental Bible truths without really getting down to the nitty-gritty meaning of those truths. Ironically, you are in exactly the same boat as the Jews; both they and you have only half of the biblical Jesus in your sight. The Jews prefer a singularly conquering Messiah while you prefer a singularly suffering Messiah, while the Bible teaches that He is both. One of the Main reasons why the Jews reject Jesus Christ as their Messiah is because He first entered this world as a suffering servant who died for the sins of the entire world and , according to Jewish thinking, failed to usher in His Kingdom of peace on earth.

    The Jewish nation forfeited His Kingdom at that particular time, not because they did not want it, but because they rejected God’s first prerequisite for entering his Kingdom – repentance and salvation. You may recall that in His very first sermon, He said “Repent ye for the Kingdom of God is at hand” and I am fearful that you, like the Jews, are rejecting His prerequisites which, once again, are repentance and salvation. You may want to accuse me of arrogance, but you yourself has said it in no uncertain terms. You mockingly refer to everyone who witnesses to the fact that they are saved by the grace of God as those who contemptuously scorn others as not-as-good-the-them, while the Messiah whom you claim to follow emphatically said that you must be born again before you can enter God’s Kingdom. Jesus is the strait gate and the narrow way, my young friend, and if you and your very distinguished and upper class, scientifically minded and intellectual friends do not enter through Him, you will never enter the Kingdom of God.

    By the by, when Jesus commanded us to take up our cross (which means to mortify our carnal nature and not to brace ourselves against the bad things that life throws at us) He also said that we should learn from Him because He is lowly in heart and humble. Believe me, it takes a lot of humility to acknowledge that you have sinned against a most holy God and that He is completely just and righteous to cast you into the lake of fire should you refuse to repent unto salvation. You glibly talk about hypocrisy, but allow me to tell you what the word really means. It means to pride yourself in the supposition that you (a mere human being) can usher in God’s kingdom by doing good philanthropic works and also become part of His Kingdom without repentance and salvation. Hypocrisy says “I don’t need Jesus to save me; I can make it on my own.” In addition your anti-purity campaign is completely at odds with God’s command that we should be holy because He is holy (which includes purity).

  • 58 Hugo // Feb 3, 2009 at 1:48 am

    Thomas, your arrogance is really putting me off. And is painting your Christianity in a rather bad light. To you it seems like “certainty” that you consider “having great faith”, but this faith is in your interpretation of the Bible, and comes across as arrogance to most people observing it.

    There is not a single verse or even the slightest hint in the Bible that man is supposed to usher in or even to assist God in the establishment of His Kingdom on earth.

    There are many verses that refer to what we should do in order to enter into this kingdom. I’m happy seeing the kingdom as a “state, potential, ideal” that is to be found by us, rather than created by us. Something for us to “enter into”. Many verses suggest we do need to do something in order to enter into the kingdom. From my different understanding to what this “kingdom” is (i.e. not the afterlife). I see a number of verses that quite clearly encourage us to go be ambassadors for the kingdom. I see verses that I’d say is at least “a slightest hint”.

    I say this on the good authority of King Nebuchadnezzar’s dream in the book of Daniel which is actually a prophecy or prediction to teach mankind that his best intentions and endeavors to bring about lasting peace, stability and prosperity on earth will always fail, and fail dismally.

    Hmm… fair enough. The theology I connect to talks about “between the already and the not yet”, and the kingdom as something we discover in our hearts. Something that is “not far”. (Which is simultaneously a statement of nearness as well as not-yet-in.)

    My understanding is still that Jesus teaches we not sit back and wait for it, but rather discover that it is already among us. And it is up to us to be open to that discovery, and to promote that knowledge of this kingdom that is among us. (With effort, I can express this in the language of Jesus’ parables, but I lack the time right now.)

    The Stone that will smite the present “aion” (world system) which is rapidly being fused into a one-world government, a one-world religion and a one-world political system under the Antichrist and his cohorts is not you or I or Brian Mclaren, or Tony Campolo, or Rick Warren nor the Emerging Church – it is Jesus Christ the Son of God.

    OK, now you’re branching into language of conspiracy theories that I don’t care much for. Apart from the fact that there’s something a bit wrong with that sentence, I think I understand what you mean. The problem is here: I’m happy with Daniel as prophetic language about humanity’s fate, but when you start to make direct inferences about specific events, I believe it is your mind making connections, the same way people have been making connections for centuries. (See a list of “old” failed end-of-the-world prophecies, or the this index with links to more pages. I wish religioustolerance.org would get a good graphic designer on-board and clean up the site a bit.)

    you prefer a singularly suffering Messiah

    I disagree. And I’m irritated by the arrogance you show. It wasn’t “you seem to have”, it was: “Ironically, you are in exactly the same boat”.

    You may want to accuse me of arrogance

    Ah, hehe, yea, I did. Good prediction!

    but you yourself has said it in no uncertain terms.

    Said what?

    You mockingly refer

    Mockingly? Where? Show me.

    …refer to everyone who witnesses to the fact that they are saved by the grace of God as those who contemptuously scorn others as not-as-good-the-them,

    Again, where did I say that?

    He also said that we should learn from Him because He is lowly in heart and humble.

    Are you lowly in heart and humble?

    Believe me, it takes a lot of humility to acknowledge that you have sinned against a most holy God and that He is completely just and righteous to cast you into the lake of fire should you refuse to repent unto salvation. You glibly talk about hypocrisy, but allow me to tell you what the word really means. It means to pride yourself in the supposition that you (a mere human being) can usher in God’s kingdom by doing good philanthropic works and also become part of His Kingdom without repentance and salvation. Hypocrisy says “I don’t need Jesus to save me; I can make it on my own.”

    Hypocrisy, as I used the word, was the common usage:

    Hypocrisy (or the state of being a hypocrite) is the act of preaching a certain belief, religion or way of life, but not, in fact, holding these same virtues oneself. For example, a smoker would be hypocritical if he or she were to criticise someone else for smoking cigarettes.

    That’s from Wikipedia. I consider it arrogant that you presume to tell me “what the word really means”. Language is defined according to how the words are used, that’s how the world uses the word. I’d be happy to accept that the Bible’s use of the word might differ a bit, due to the trouble in translating from Greek to English, but you cannot presume to tell me that I’m using the word incorrectly, the furthest you can go is to tell me that the word can mean something else in another context.

    Thus: I consider you arrogant. Above you talk about being humble. You preach humility. Thus, I consider you a hypocrite. By my definition of the words I use. The question remains just whether that is what Jesus meant, in Matthew 23, go read the whole chapter, I’m sharing just two extracts:

    13″Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You shut the kingdom of heaven in men’s faces. You yourselves do not enter, nor will you let those enter who are trying to.[c]

    33″You snakes! You brood of vipers! How will you escape being condemned to hell?

    May I urge you to retreat to your room, and prayerfully, humbly, investigate this, ask yourself if you might indeed be a hypocrite, ask yourself if you might be more sinful than you imagine. Ask yourself if you might be busy shutting the kingdom of heaven in men’s faces, when it isn’t your place to do so. Ask yourself if you’re not overstepping your boundaries and being judgemental of others, when it isn’t your place to do so. Ask yourself, are you arrogant? Are you a hypocrite?

    And I will do the same. I admit, I’m often arrogant. I often lack sufficient humility. And I try to improve, I believe I do bear some fruit, I believe my heart is in the right place. Maybe I’m wrong, but shouldn’t you rather let God judge me?

    In addition your anti-purity campaign is completely at odds with God’s command that we should be holy because He is holy (which includes purity).

    I intend to share more of Jesus’ teachings, to better illustrate his challenges to the purity code. “Be compassionate, as God is compassionate” (which I think might be a paraphrase, I can look up the details if you’re interested) was what Jesus taught, in something of a juxtaposition to the Pharisaic teachings on holiness-understood-as-purity. When purity comes in conflict with compassion/love, which one is to win? Isn’t the ultimate purity found in love and compassion? Isn’t being compassionate the ultimate holiness? (Maybe not exactly as I’m phrasing it here, but these questions are meant in a somewhat rhetorical fashion, to provoke some thought about the matter. That is all.)

    Jesus’ challenge to the purity code is one of the clearest things in the gospels, if you know enough of the context in which the narrative plays out. Helping the half-dead man (the good Samaritan), speaking to the woman by the well, some elements of the narrative of the prodigal son, doing good works on the Sabbath, eating with sinners and tax collectors, interacting with the lepers… that’s just off the top of my head.

  • 59 saneman // Feb 3, 2009 at 8:49 am

    [Ed's paraphrasing of saneman's comment below:

    "To me, your discussion seems confused, and condescending from both sides. I find it rather hilarious, in fact. ;) It is for this reason that I find such discussions to be a waste of time, and that it reminds me, yet again, of the angels-dancing-on-a-pin-head cliché. I can't understand why you don't just point out that it isn't a 'perfect' piece of scripture handed down by god, and be done with it?"

    That's the good. Now for the condescending part and the sarcasm:

    "You are all such a bunch of fools for wasting your time like this, that you need me to be continually intolerant and sarcastic to remind you of it. Hugo needs to be careful, because he might just start thinking he can fly. (I know this because I'm smarter than you, as I don't share your delusions. You should all rather be more like me, that would solve one of the world's big problems!)

    That's how I perceive saneman's comment. Here is his comment as he wrote it, let me know if you think I'm way off:]


    Still amazing to watch people pretend to know the mind of their supposed god(geographical of course). Thank goodness this a blog and not a military negotiation… The confusion and condescension from both sides is hilarious.

    Please continue with your jesus stories, and how many angels can dance on the head of a pin, and did jesus see his shadow and did he live in Sherwood forest?

    Hehe the kid on the roof giving you some grief, remember hugo only climb up onto the roof to talk him down don’t relapse and start thinking you can fly again.

    All this bickering about the perfect word of god must get annoying to moderates and fundamentalists alike, at least there aren’t any other gods that could further confuse the situation exponentially.

  • 60 Kenneth Oberlander // Feb 3, 2009 at 9:17 am

    @Thomas

    a prophecy or prediction to teach mankind that his best intentions and endeavors to bring about lasting peace, stability and prosperity on earth will always fail, and fail dismally.

    I can think of other reasons why such endeavours should fail. Rather more pragmatic ones…

    Neither the Babylonian, Medo-Persian, Grecian and Roman empires or any other kingdom for that matter were able to establish a perfect Utopian society on earth.

    An utopian ideal is by definition unachievable. It is an ideal.

    The Stone that will smite the present “aion” (world system) which is rapidly being fused into a one-world government,

    Really? Tell that to the UN. They’ll be happy to hear someone considers them successful…

    A one-world government is a long way away…

    a one-world religion

    Really? Tell that to each one of the thirty thousand different flavours of Christianity. And whilst you’re at it, why not mention this to the Scientologists, the many versions of Islam, the Mormons, or any one of the so-called New Atheists.

    and a one-world political system under the Antichrist and his cohorts

    Do you have any evidence that the Antichrist is in charge of this fictitious one-world government of yours?

    The Jews prefer a singularly conquering Messiah while you prefer a singularly suffering Messiah, while the Bible teaches that He is both.

    That’s interesting. How does he manage such an impossible feat?

    One of the Main reasons why the Jews reject Jesus Christ as their Messiah is because He first entered this world as a suffering servant who died for the sins of the entire world and , according to Jewish thinking, failed to usher in His Kingdom of peace on earth.

    Something that he has singularly failed to do for the piddling intervening span of two thousand years, despite numerous prophecies predicting exactly that.

    Perhaps the Jews were justified.

    Jesus is the strait gate and the narrow way, my young friend, and if you and your very distinguished and upper class, scientifically minded and intellectual friends do not enter through Him, you will never enter the Kingdom of God.

    Must suck to be me then.

    Not.

    to mortify our carnal nature

    This makes no sense to me. You say it like our carnal nature is somehow wrong. It is an integral part of being human.

    He is completely just and righteous to cast you into the lake of fire should you refuse to repent unto salvation.

    This…is just disgusting. What an utterly pathological rationalisation.

    You glibly talk about hypocrisy, but allow me to tell you what the word really means.

    I think the dictionary meaning will suffice, thanks.

    Hypocrisy says “I don’t need Jesus to save me; I can make it on my own.”

    This is only hypocrisy, and only by a stretch, if Jesus exists.

    @ Bendul:
    If you are still reading this, still up for coffee some time this week?

  • 61 Kenneth Oberlander // Feb 3, 2009 at 9:18 am

    Damn blockquotes. Hugo, can you fix please.

  • 62 Hugo // Feb 3, 2009 at 10:05 am

    Done.

    Hah, saneman, are you not condescending with that comment of yours?! Sarcasm isn’t useful. Your “contributions” would be one reason why this post exists. Maybe I should write a “please refrain from sarcasm” post, explaining why sarcasm is so useless. I thought that would be obvious enough though.

    Your contributions are really pretty useless most of the time. The only useful thing I can take out of it is the thought “am I being condescending? Could I be less condescending…?” It would be most useful if someone else where I’m being too condescending.

    Can you not recognise how much more useful Kenneth’s comment is?

  • 63 Hugo // Feb 3, 2009 at 10:27 am

    And of course, we lack the paralinguistic cues that we need to understand people’s tone, making all our writing much more prone to projection… Thus the most condescending among us would say “you’re all condescending!” (At most I’d wager a “what you write comes across as condescending, because of this or that reason”.)

  • 64 saneman // Feb 3, 2009 at 10:30 am

    useful? I think pointing out how ridiculous the discussion is and how you guys jump from one presupposition to the next all the while forgetting you where all primed by parents and geographical location is very useful to keeping you guys grounded in some kind reality.

    I understand that you are trying your best to explain the world around from your view point of irrational beliefs, but like I have said before surely you need a constant reminder(annoying to the point of Ad nauseum) that all this is speculation and romantic fluff talk is still only about a myth.

    arguing about which version of a myth you believe is silly plain and simple, if pointing that out makes me seem condescending, thats your own insecurities acting up. You are the one playing make believe not me.

    getting sucked into a discussion about how many pair of sandals jesus could have worn or what he hypothetically meant if he hypothetically existed and hypothetically said X is just what you want, its not useful and just plays into your hands of creating a place where you try force people to stick to topics you deem acceptable and don’t rock your boat

  • 65 Bendul // Feb 3, 2009 at 12:13 pm

    Wow. The controversy.

    @saneman. Thankyou for an invaluble contribution; reminding us again that any ambiguos matter which people do not immediately agree on is pointless. how utterly idealistic of us to assume that we can learn from disagreements!

    @thomas. Dude, I am probably the most sympathetic of all the readers of the blog towards “your cause”. I must say that (some of…) the points you made In the last comment did strike something of a chord with me. (ek is immers ook betrokke by ‘n baie konserwatiewe evangelistiese groep op stellenbosch) But seemed to make sense did not sit right in my heart. I must agree that the way in which you presented your opinions were arrogant, aggressive and contrary to the way I believe Christ taught us to live (shake the dust off your feet?). I was at first willing to give you leeway (?) considering Jesus Himself was pretty unpretty towards the people whom He perceived to be perverting the message He held dear. But. The more I thought about it the more I felt it a bit presumptuous to assume the license that PERFECT Christ had in judging those who put their own agendas first. If you can find a good clear biblical example of where, for instance, Paul of tarsus, did this (outside of relationship! please don’t refer to his letter of correction to the Corinthians!); then I will recant.

    More than that you perfectly exemplify my point of presuming to know Hugo, and how he thinks. You stereotype, label and effectively pigeonhole his (finely nuanced) ideas.

    While Christ lives in us, I consider it pure presumption that we may adress “the scribes and pharisees” like a perfect judge can (remember judge not yet you be judged). You may prove me otherwise if you can find good scriptural backing of anyone of the apostles doing this.

    However i thought you made and interesting observation in pointing out that Jesus is the suffering AND conquering messiah. How do you see this paradox realising practically?

    @Kenneth: Coffee!!! Yes please! hugo could you send him my adress or however you do this privacy stuff, so we can arrange a meeting?

  • 66 gerhard // Feb 3, 2009 at 12:22 pm

    hugo , do you even see your own hypocritical behavior? to point it out again, how can you achieve anything when attempts to communicate with your way of thinking is always confronted emotionally like this. What is achived by your constant getting personal? Learn one thing, that is , when people attack ideas then that is admirable unlike attacking someone personally. Like thomas , his ideas are perfectly justified by the framework he’s working from. He’s working with what he has. as arrogant or blind as he may sound you shouldn’t attack him on a personal level.

    Taking the moderate middle ground , preaching acceptance and understanding , is all fine , as long as you actually practice it.

    ps: you’re still wrong about the historical jesus, unlike alexander the ‘proof’ is very different because of the nature of the proof. I’ve already reduced your argument to two points , a) the historical method argument (flawed because of the nature of sources used , self interest) b) scientific consensus (ehm, its like calling people racist while living in a society where racism is the norm, going against that requires you being open to the same result as the racism, it takes ueber strong people to do that. )

    btw, this blog post should serve as proof that anti-isms (anti moderatism , anti – athiesm , anti- fundamentalism ) leads to conversation. I’m willing to bet that your most successful posts are always the ones you hate the most :)

    thomas:

    Hypocrisy says “I don’t need Jesus to save me; I can make it on my own.”In addition your anti-purity campaign is completely at odds with God’s command that we should be holy because He is holy (which includes purity).

    Sorry as i’m not a christain can you explain to me what you mean by hypocrisy? does a someone following another relgion ‘make it on their own’? Or did you mean the moderate’s Hypocrisy? that i can totally agree with. I feel fundamentalism makes more sense because of the framework you’re working from , moderates , are kinda going ‘god this , god that, lets talk about the angles on the pin bits’ but then are unwilling to follow by conviently leaving out the bits they personally feel are annoying.

    another question i have for you thomas is to do with other faiths ? do you think people could ‘make it’?Do you see them go to hell by default or something? Am a little confused about this.

    saneman : keep the sarcasm up, if people can’t deal with it then they need to learn to deal. keep pointing out for sake of self awareness :)
    pseudo arguments are great aren’t they? they can take their arguments in any direction they want to:)

  • 67 gerhard // Feb 3, 2009 at 1:00 pm

    bendul: he wasn’t complaining about the argument , he was complaining about the nature of the argument. What can be gained about arguing the which shade of red the sky? Shouldn’t you be arguing about whether it is blue before you’re arguing which shade of a colour that you just intuitively decided on or grew up with?

    btw, if you are rightious enough then you can see the Jesus is the suffering messiah because he is the conquering messiah. for you to be the conquer then most probably suffer because you’ll cause suffering . dont know if that contributes anything …

  • 68 Kenneth Oberlander // Feb 3, 2009 at 2:29 pm

    @Hugo
    Some of my comments to Thomas were not unsarcastic… ;-)

    @saneman
    It seems like you are arguing that myths (in which I include religious myth) have absolutely no value to modern society. That they teach us nothing, even if they are untrue.

    From what I understand from Hugo’s posts, I don’t see any argumentation that myths are literally true: that they really happened. What I see are attempts to find more common human values from the Christian mythos. To link these ideas with similar/dissimilar viewpoints from other cultures/religions. Things about the human condition from within the Christian perspective, that can serve as a jumping point for fundamentalist viewpoints to engage with. Where we can discuss what this tells us about our common humanity instead of angel-pin dancing.

    Myths are valuable. They teach us a lot about ourselves, historically and symbolically. What I object to, and which I suspect you will fully agree with given the content of your posts, is when myths are accepted as real.

  • 69 gerhard // Feb 3, 2009 at 4:13 pm

    kenneth : Hugo has spoken up against the bible being taught as myth. (so by implication he’s recommending it as factual)
    what about the specifics? like jesus being historical (ie the only account of him being semi-‘factual’ and hence giving weight to ‘the way’.) That in my view is a big sway point for the religion and teaching something like that as fact is as rotten as teaching meth users how to make meth from common pharmaceuticals . (for the slower people, feeding the dependence/fuel for the fire)

  • 70 Kenneth Oberlander // Feb 3, 2009 at 4:37 pm

    @gerhard

    Hugo has spoken up against the bible being taught as myth. (so by implication he’s recommending it as factual)

    Is this somewhere on this site? I’d like to see this.

    what about the specifics? like jesus being historical (ie the only account of him being semi-’factual’ and hence giving weight to ‘the way’.) That in my view is a big sway point for the religion and teaching something like that as fact is as rotten as teaching meth users how to make meth from common pharmaceuticals . (for the slower people, feeding the dependence/fuel for the fire)

    From what I understand (and I am by no means an expert on this), the evidence for the existence of an historical Jesus is thin. This doesn’t invalidate many of the sayings/deeds attributed to him, read as myth. For me, being an atheist doesn’t mean I can’t get value from the story of the Good Samaritan, the casting out of the moneychangers, or (for that matter), the crucifixion.

    I sense we are in agreement on this point, at least?

  • 71 saneman // Feb 3, 2009 at 4:38 pm

    @Kenneth: I understand and agree that stories/myths are very useful tools in conveying a concept, but it must be explained/understood that its still and will always be a myth unless a time machine is invented.

    and why elevate certain myths over others surely the best way to show a faith head his close mindedness is run through all the other mythical people of history who where born of a virgin and where killed and rose from the dead … blah blah

  • 72 saneman // Feb 3, 2009 at 4:42 pm

    @Bendul: the disagreements about ambiguous matters do teach us how to debate and understand each others way of thinking but when the “matter” can be inter changed with LOTR then it needs to be said that this is just waffle and fluff.

  • 73 Bendul // Feb 3, 2009 at 4:43 pm

    Kenneth:

    I am also by no means an expert: But my impression (not just from fundies) is that the historical & archeological evidence for the events of which the bible tell are pretty overwhelmingly unanimous; even in the writings of those who did not believe in His resurrection/divinity etc.

    Why do you say the evidence is thin? any references?

  • 74 Kenneth Oberlander // Feb 3, 2009 at 4:56 pm

    I understand and agree that stories/myths are very useful tools in conveying a concept, but it must be explained/understood that its still and will always be a myth unless a time machine is invented.

    Agreed.

    and why elevate certain myths over others surely the best way to show a faith head his close mindedness is run through all the other mythical people of history who where born of a virgin and where killed and rose from the dead … blah blah

    I agree this is one very effective way to do this. But in order to do this, you need to have dialogue going. And people don’t always respond to the “How can you people believe this crap” argument with dialogue…

    @Bendul
    As I said, I really haven’t looked at this thoroughly! What cursory arguments I have read come from a site called ebon musings…I can email you the web address if you want it. I’d appreciate a scholarly rebuttal to the arguments presented there…

  • 75 saneman // Feb 3, 2009 at 5:01 pm

    Doesn’t it get tiring being a believer in myth X, when any imbecilic teenager internet troll can poke holes in the myth all day long.
    I suppose then *friendly* curtailing of certain topics and methods of debate might be a good idea, if one would want to see religion still around in ones lifetime.

  • 76 gerhard // Feb 3, 2009 at 5:07 pm

    ken : refer to the peperspray post i think:) we had a very long , very disjointed argument where saneman and i were saying : teach myth as myth. don’t elevate christian mythology so far above other myths. I think the example i made had to do with roman mythos .

    oh yes, i totally agree myths aren’t worthless just don’t pretend its not as much of a myth as others. The historicity of jesus (ignoring blatant problems with the idea) favors an ‘factual’ view of the christain myth. If one needs a ‘jesus’ type wise person to have existed then i would recommend the story of Buddha as there is actual direct contemporary archaeological evidence he and his story literally existed.

    bendul: if i find time i’ll do a full synopses for you. We’ve reduced evidence down to two points ‘for’ his existence and those are more or less ‘moot’ points too.

  • 77 Bendul // Feb 3, 2009 at 5:14 pm

    Saneman!

    I can understand why you would refer to yourself as a teenage imbecile, but to call oneself a troll? Don’t be so hard on yourself man!

  • 78 Hugo // Feb 3, 2009 at 7:02 pm

    The reason for this request, for which I even said “please”:

    Every. Single. Thread. can end up derailed, that we talk about the Exact. Same. Thing. Every single time. How boring is that?

    For this reason, I need software to allow a conversation to not be derailed by trolls, to support any number of parallel conversations.

    This is my living room on the internet. (Sorry saneman, if you don’t get it: that’s metaphorical language, I’m not recommending that it be taken literally. I can’t sit back and watch TV in this “place”. Just in case you thought I thought that.) And I don’t have such software yet. So, until then, this is a final warning for saneman: derail another thread with bigoted sarcasm like your first comment, and I’m kicking you out of my living room. gerhard is not on a final warning yet, I haven’t read all the comments above yet, his first had some interesting stuff I want to respond to. I’m thinking of starting another post on which to run *that* discussion, though I don’t really want to give it an entire either.

    I’m thinking of taking a couple of days off from work to implement the things I still need in mengelmoes. (I have to take time off anyway.)

    bendul: if i find time i’ll do a full synopses for you. We’ve reduced evidence down to two points ‘for’ his existence and those are more or less ‘moot’ points too.

    I actually have some posts planned on the topic, since December, when there was an interesting meeting on that topic. And there’s more than two points. And they’re not “moot”. Confirmed again recently by chatting to a Jew, to understand the weight of the “criterion of embarrassment” as the historians call it. But this discussion is pointless and off-topic here.

    You are more than welcome to say “I consider it moot.”, that’s cool, but if you say “It is moot.”, you’re inviting an argument. Again. Please refrain. Go to some effort, otherwise I’m blocking you too, I’ve had enough derailings to last me until mengelmoes’ commenting system is fully functional.

  • 79 gerhard // Feb 3, 2009 at 7:36 pm

    @hugo

    Every. Single. Thread. can end up derailed, that we talk about the Exact. Same. Thing. Every single time. How boring is that?
    ….
    I’m thinking of starting another post on which to run *that* discussion, though I don’t really want to give it an entire either.

    why not make a post on the ‘exact.same.thinks’ so we could possibly have a sensible argument to completion about them? that way you possibly could contain their poison to those entries?
    a word of warning, threaten a troll with a ban and the troll gets more excited. A ban would also mean you’d need to moderate each comment as there would be no way for you to limit commenting. trolls find ways :) luckly, saneman doesn’t strike me as a troll , and i don’t care enough, either you accept me or i go.

    You are more than welcome to say “I consider it moot.”, that’s cool, but if you say “It is moot.”, you’re inviting an argument. Again. Please refrain. Go to some effort, otherwise I’m blocking you too, I’ve had enough derailings to last me until mengelmoes’ commenting system is fully functional.

    Well, considering that i was offering an opinion your banning me for saying ‘it is moot’ would possibly show your true colors :o) I can offer a valid points and i most probably will still deliver them to Bendul. So. Seeing that you have already made up your unmovable mind about the subject and won’t even entertain the argument (why saneman said ‘blind’ in a previous post) you are welcome to skip those comments. I however shall be eagerly awaiting your “posts” on the subject.

  • 80 Thomas // Feb 3, 2009 at 9:31 pm

    Kenneth Oberlander

    to mortify our carnal nature.

    This makes no sense to me. You say it like our carnal nature is somehow wrong. It is an integral part of being human.

    Your ignorance of spiritual truths proves that the Bible is God’s infallible and inerrant Word. Of course it makes no sense to you because the Word of God says with indisputable clarity:

    1Co 2:14 But the natural man (the man without Christ receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.

  • 81 saneman // Feb 3, 2009 at 10:23 pm

    headline reads:
    trolls pepper sprayed at thinktoomuch.net

  • 82 gerhard // Feb 3, 2009 at 11:25 pm

    hahaha

  • 83 Hugo // Feb 4, 2009 at 12:35 am

    It is now 9pm here. Let’s see if I can limit the time I spend responding to *all* of these comments, to 30 minutes. Lee-way, 40 minutes.

    Comment #59, saneman’s. I’m editing that one to summarise paraphrase it. [time passes] OK, done. That took too much time, but I’m trying to accurately portrey how I perceive saneman’s comment. Please see #59 again. I’m hoping it would also illustrate why I perceive his comment as arrogant and condescending.

    Ack @Kenneth #60. Except one part of our carnal nature that could be unanimously considered… um… at least problematic: our nature to beat The Other to death, especially when we’re in competition for some kind of resource. Not that I mean to poke holes in the point you’re making, it remains a valid point.

    @saneman #64:

    Sarcasm isn’t useful.

    I think pointing out how ridiculous the discussion is and how you guys jump from one presupposition to the next [...] is very useful to keeping you guys grounded in some kind reality.

    You could point that out without sarcasm, thus, sarcasm isn’t useful. I’m full-well aware of what this discussion looks like to you, and I don’t understand what you have against ridiculous discussions. I’m of course welcome to enjoy them, and you’re not saying I’m not, but your sarcasm is showing some intolerance towards those that enjoy ridiculous conversations.

    all the while forgetting you where all primed by parents and geographical location

    Stop presuming to know what I forget and not. You are assuming a tone of superiority -> a definition of “condescending”. I could easily forgive that if you were right, but you are wrong. What is also condescending is to presume you are needed to kepe me grounded in some kind of reality. I’m very well grounded, thank you. There is nothing wrong with arguing about what Gandalf really said, based on the actual text of the LOTR. (And I don’t want to discuss that again, this statement is intentionally phrased to be a no-brainer.)

    I understand that you are trying your best to explain the world around from your view point of irrational beliefs

    Wrong again, saneman-the-condescender.

    but like I have said before surely you need a constant reminder

    Wrong again, saneman-the-condescender.

    arguing about which version of a myth you believe is silly plain and simple

    In your opinion.

    If people live their lives according to a particular myth, there is certainly much value in arguing what that myth really says, especially if one person thinks it says “thou shalt be intolerant and preach intolerance” or “you should dedicate your life to helping the world avoid burning in hell-fire, it is the compassionate thing to do”, while the other believes it says “you should be compassionate towards all people, and you should be wary of purity codes that turn you into a hypocrite” or misunderstands it to the point that he’s misleading people to burn in the flames of hell. Add to that more myths that people might believe and understand in different ways, with some believing it says “go blow yourself up in a suicide attack” and the other believes it is only about maintaining a culture to avoid the breakdown of society. If the suicide bombing party might be open to hearing another way of seeing his beloved scripture, but not at all open to accepting it as “worthless, to be ignored”, isn’t it valuable to have an argument about the meaning of said myth? This should again be a no-brainer! So I say again: arguing about which version of a myth you believe is not plain-and-simply silly.

    To recap the “sarcasm isn’t useful” thought: you could say “please bear in mind you are arguing what I consider to be pure myth”. That way, you’re inviting Thomas to a discussion about it, if you’re interested in starting that kind of discussion. And you’d leave enough scope to avoid triggering me again, knowing full well how I feel about such a blatant dismissal without adequate reason.

    if pointing that out makes me seem condescending, thats your own insecurities acting up

    Wrong again. You are coming at it with a tone of superiority. Admit it! I’m not insecure about this.

    You are the one playing make believe

    Wrong and condescending yet again.

    a discussion about how many pair of sandals jesus could have worn

    Wrong again. We’re in a discussion about burning in hell for all eternity. If you are unable to see the difference, you’re not welcome on this blog. Admit there is a difference, or go away and don’t come back. That is a friendly request.

    its not useful

    Not useful for what? Stop presuming to know what everyone else finds useful. Empirical evidence for how wrong you are is available higher up in this very comment thread. If you were actually right, once again, I would be able to forgive your condescension and your arrogance. But you’re too often wrong. Admit it, or leave. (You’re welcome to soften the admission by explaining what it is that makes you a bit arrogant and condescending.)

    @Bendul, #65: I consider that sarcasm useful. It responds to sarcasm with sarcasm, in part illustrating the wonderful value of sarcasm. ;-) Context.

    And I’m biased, because I’m friends with Bendul and Kenneth. I would invite them into my living room anytime, and introduce them to any of my friends. But you, saneman, and gerhard, sorry, you have not earned my trust. Of course, it doesn’t help that we have not met. (I have met Bendul and Kenneth.) Human nature…

    Bendul finds the conversation useful, thereby also disproving saneman’s earlier assertion.

    (outside of relationship! please don’t refer to his letter of correction to the Corinthians!);

    *grin* at this in the context of Thomas’ eventual comment and scripture quote. The reason Ben says this: that is a letter by Paul to one of his communities, who he is in a relationship with. It was not a letter sent to those that have not committed to that way of life. (Whether that is valid or not, I’m just explaining why Bendul made that comment.)

    This discussion is buried in so many comments now, that Thomas cannot focus on that which is relevant to this conversation. (Which is why I consider the derailing to be not useful.)

    @gerhard, #66, a useful comment!

    hugo , do you even see your own hypocritical behavior? to point it out again, how can you achieve anything when attempts to communicate with your way of thinking is always confronted emotionally like this. What is achived by your constant getting personal? Learn one thing, that is , when people attack ideas then that is admirable unlike attacking someone personally. Like thomas , his ideas are perfectly justified by the framework he’s working from. He’s working with what he has. as arrogant or blind as he may sound you shouldn’t attack him on a personal level.

    As I understand it, you are talking about me emotionally responding to Thomas? This is something I find worth pondering. I’m taking a look back at my comment to Thomas, #58, to verify. I refer to being irritated and being put off, yes. That is fine, and it is cooly and calmly explained. It comments on the effect of being arrogant and condescending, that is precisely what puts people off.

    Where might I come across as condescending or arrogant? I think maybe my confidence in talking about Jesus’ challenge to the purity code. I *can* back that up though… My big irritation is with Thomas pulling a “I know the real truth about the Bible” and writing in an authoratative style as a result of it, so I toyed with doing the same, as a demonstration of how it looks. I don’t think I did that though?

    What I did do, with regards to “getting personal”, is point out the scripture that refers to hypocrisy, and burning in hell… basically the places where Jesus challenged the Pharisees on their teachings on hell. That’s the kind of situation where Jesus, according to the text, is the most outspoken and assertive. And I’m modelling my behaviour and arguments on that… (or rationalising it with that, as we humans tend to do with scripture).

    Drats, I’m approaching an hour already. So much for deadlines.

    So the question I’d happily discuss: was Jesus being condescending and arrogant in the way he called the Pharisees on their hypocrisy? And am I arrogant or condescending in how I do this? I re-read my questions, and realised you can read a certain condescending and arrogant tone into it, which I didn’t mean to be there. The last bit aimed to provide more insight into that tone: “(Maybe not exactly as I’m phrasing it here, but these questions are meant in a somewhat rhetorical fashion, to provoke some thought about the matter. That is all.)”

    Now the reason I do this, and I get personal, is in response to Thomas sending me, us all, to hell for all eternity. (The typical atheistic response to that is “it is your hell, you go to it” – saneman underestimates me continually if he thinks I’m not aware of most of the “smart responses” and clichés atheists love. I’ve got enough experience…)

    I also don’t see it as much of a personal attack, I meant it more as a suggestion that he investigates some of his assumptions, and be wary of what he throws out there. I do consider this the most effective course of action. Maybe that is condescending: I don’t think Thomas will respond to normal and calm discussion. I base this on experience of fundamentalism and on what I’ve seen of his blog. For that reason, I’m pulling that “Jesus-and-the-Pharisees” tactic, and trying to raise his awareness of his hypocrisy with regards to scripture and the way he’s presenting it.

    I’m willing to bet that your most successful posts are always the ones you hate the most

    Depends on your chosen metric of “success”. Derailing a conversation with other people in favour of “wasting time” (no offence) in a closed discussion with you (gerhard) and saneman is decidedly unsuccessful by my metric.

    To answer your question on what Thomas means, he means other religions believe “I can make it on my own” and that that is labelled “hypocritical”.

    moderates , are kinda going ‘god this , god that, lets talk about the angles on the pin bits’

    I disagree. In my experiences, moderates typically refrain from talking about angels-on-a-pin, preferring to talk about the “big principles and values”. In my experiene, these angels-on-a-pin thing happens when fundamentalists are directing the conversation.

    another question i have for you thomas is to do with other faiths ? do you think people could ‘make it’?Do you see them go to hell by default or something? Am a little confused about this.

    Thomas, please correct me if I’m wrong, or explain where I haven’t got the details right: Thomas believes other faiths will all burn in hell, for the only way to make it into heaven is “through Jesus”. He explicitly shoots down, on his blog, the “more moderate” Christians that say others may know Jesus, thereby could be said to “enter through Jesus”, even if they don’t “know him by name”. I.e. explicitly: they will burn in hell. For all eternity. You too, gerhard… Sorry, it seems you’re not quite up to speed on what this whole conversation is about?

    saneman : keep the sarcasm up, if people can’t deal with it then they need to learn to deal. keep pointing out for sake of self awareness :)

    Wrong, gerhard. We explicitly want to include diverse people on this blog, and we don’t want to add any unnecessary burdens to their participation. “Before you can participate, you *must first* learn to deal with intolerant and bigoted sarcasm” is not an acceptable requirement here. I am trying to do what I can to avoid it becoming one. If that means I have to block saneman, or you, then I must block.

    gerhard #67:

    What can be gained about arguing the which shade of red the sky?

    Please think again, and admit you’re arguing the same thing as “saneman’s sandals” here. Please tell me you can recognise the difference between an argument about the colour of the sky and something about “where you’ll spend an afterlife”.

    pseudo arguments are great aren’t they? they can take their arguments in any direction they want to:)

    Yea! ;-) The point of arguing about such scriptural matters is to encourage thinking, on what some might call a “spiritual” level (and I probably use that word differently to the way Thomas uses it, or saneman/gerhard as well, I dunno) to encourage “repentance” (a re-evaluation of ideas, reflection, metanoia). It’s certainly a much more human endeavour than it is a scientific one (scientific being about finding what is factual, or “real” as saneman might label it).

    btw, if you are rightious enough then you can see the Jesus is the suffering messiah because he is the conquering messiah. for you to be the conquer then most probably suffer because you’ll cause suffering . dont know if that contributes anything …

    I love that last sentence, it was the key that softened me up a bit and caused me to re-evaluate and respond to that comment. Kudos for that last sentence! ;) I do think you’re touching on a truth there… a “Christian truth” as well as a broader one, but more broadly, everyone won’t necessarily consider it as a truth. The Christian narrative to me is indeed one about how one style of “conquering” just causes suffering, whereas there is another understanding of conquering, conquering through use of, amongst others, suffering. An inverted thing. You don’t “find the kingdom” by forcing the other down in order to conquer, but rather by turning things around, by washing the other’s feet, by understanding “the third option”. (It isn’t about being a doormat either.) Thanks for this contribution!

    And I do continue to reflect on what this implies with my way of arguing about hypocrisy and “getting personal” as some experience it. I consider that similar to “letting people slap themselves”, and “it’s your hell, you go to it”, and hence different from the classical conquering… Just saying: I’m aware. Not saying I’ve solved it: there isn’t a solution to many of the spiritual traditions’ paradoxes, many revel in paradoxes! (Esp. Zen Buddhism?) They’re the ones that cause a shift in mindset, even if they’re unresolvable.

    Amen to Kenneth’s #68.

    I’d add that, with a fundamentalist, my aim is to encourage them to see things in a different way. Any different way is a success, to open the conversation up to a bit more diversity than is indoctrinated by “conservative” religion. And I pick the way that I feel would be most successful in achieving that. One crack in a hard heart, is one step closer to being “born again” as I understand the term. It’s one step closer to the softness of a child, wherein you can consider all the different amazing things in this world with eyes wide with wonder, eager to learn new things, rather than the “adult” way of “I have found The Truth,” (so they think) “and will not be swayed! I will learn nothing new, for I know *everything* I need to know!”

    gerhard #69:

    kenneth : Hugo has spoken up against the bible being taught as myth. (so by implication he’s recommending it as factual)

    I have? I second Kenneth’s skepticism on this, and therefore echo his question as well:

    Is this somewhere on this site? I’d like to see this.

    My apologies if my nuances get misconstrued… my best guess would be that my complaints against all the negative connotations people pile onto “myth” was what was misconstrued. I.e.: there were places where comments were very dismissive of the value of the Bible, drying to dismiss it with “myth!”, to which I responded by arguing against the dismissiveness. I left the Bible out of that argument, tackling only the problem of negativity towards myth.

    If people find a particular myth “A” to be valuable, and they have a “myth is bad and worthless” thing going, trying to join those two items into one becomes a “that thing you find to be valuable, is worthless”, which is contrary to empirical evidence: they find it valuable. And value is a human subjective thing. Hence, I argue against “myth is bad and worthless”, and I argue “the Bible isn’t bad and worthless”, because only once the value of those things are kept in mind, can we sanely have expectations to point out the mythological nature of e.g. the first… 11? chapters of Genesis. (And again, I’m going for minimal statements here, seeking common ground.)

    Um, and that’s what I suspect is being misconstrued. Please don’t turn this into a debate/discussion, I was only trying to answer that misunderstanding, instead of leaving it on gerhard’s shoulders. (Though that really ugly “rationalist” response: your statement, your burden of proof!, might have saved me some trouble. I just still believe in cooperation… even though cooperation in a tribe does break apart when some member turns pathologically selfish.)

    surely the best way to show a faith head his close mindedness is run through all the other mythical people of history who where born of a virgin and where killed and rose from the dead … blah blah

    Yea, maybe… try and spark a successful discussion about that point, by all means. Start a blog! Collect readers… That point was mentioned in my favourite church, by the way. From the pulpit. That everyone may learn of the prior stories of virginal births and resurrection.

    I could answer with “surely the best way to show a faith head his close mindedness is to show him how his way of reading his own scriptures incriminate him”… and the answer would also be “maybe”. Arrogance is assuming your way is the only way. Wait, that sounds familiar… doesn’t it?

    And still, you could say those things, without having to be a saracastic ass about it. Kenneth lifted the question of Jesus’ existence in a pretty nice way. Presented it to Thomas as a question of “would you like to discuss this then, maybe?”

    Repeating a prior sentiment: if you end up with people with their fingers in their ears, you lose. Know what I mean?

    @Bendul, #73:

    Why do you say the evidence is thin? any references?

    I’d point out a travelling teacher won’t leave much evidence. There really isn’t that much evidence about Jesus’ existence, it being a relatively small movement until after his death. You mention historical and archeological evidence of events: of course. There will certainly be history mixed in with evolving oral narrative…

    That’s just two cents’ for now. I’ll get back to why many historians believe there is adequate evidence to assert he most probably did exist, as well as point to the interesting meetings / etc that are still taking place around that very debate.

    Amen @ Kenneth’s #74.

    I’m also hoping to get some more structure in place for collecting reference material. As in, links to stuff. And developing a better structure to allow more easily directing people to other places where certain discussions took place or can take place, allowing revival of old discussions… hopefully summarised to avoid excessive info overload.

    @ saneman #75, and this is very important:

    Doesn’t it get tiring being a believer in myth X, when any imbecilic teenager internet troll can poke holes in the myth all day long.

    Doesn’t it get tiring being a proponent of evolution, when any imbecilic teenage internet troll can poke holes in the theory all day long? Most certainly, yes it can! And it happened, right here on this blog. We had a lot of participation from -M-, who holds (um… soon…) a PhD in Behavioural Ecology, i.e. a real! live! scientist!… who was going to a lot of trouble to try and help out a creationist. At some point, -M- threw up her hands and said “screw this, he’s just poking holes in it all day long. He can go read up on it elsewhere, there’s enough material out there.” And I second that, she had a phd to finish, and has much more valuable things to do.

    Do you understand how this proves you wrong, yet again? Admit it! Or leave! The point is: poking holes in things all day long is no sign of intelligence. Understanding the bigger picture and picking your battles carefully is of much more importance. Want me to provide you with a link to the discussion? I can’t remember if the true words for my paraphrase (“screw this, …”) was in a private email or in an actual comment. I could dig that up for you as well though, if I felt so inclined.

    I suppose then *friendly* curtailing of certain topics and methods of debate might be a good idea, if one would want to see religion still around in ones lifetime.

    Stop condescendingly sticking me in a box, saneman. Apologise, or leave! The friendly curtailing of time-wasting discussions picking apart creationism in favour of pointing people to some reading material, is worth it, because we have better things to do with our time. Or are you arguing -M- should have rather been here answering all the holes a creationist can poke, rather than be out there doing real science?

    So that argument is invalid. It is indeed useful to friendily curtail certain topics, if there are more valuable things to discuss. (Whether there are more valuable things, that we cannot objectively prove, or disprove, but that fact still remains.)

    The historicity of jesus (ignoring blatant problems with the idea) favors an ‘factual’ view of the christain myth.

    No, not quite. A “historical” view is one that is open to realisation that some things are more factual, and others are less factual. I.e. that we should not take everything as “Ultimate Factual Literal Truth At Face Value” (TM). Teaching people about the historical method and how it works most certainly provides insights into what we can and cannot know, irrespective of the conclusion you come to. I want you guys to stop “demonising” certain conclusions, in favour of being more permissive with the explorations. Encourage people to explore. Just because you already “have all the answers” doesn’t mean you shouldn’t let other people seek. And finding all the answers sometimes discourages precisely that openness. “Oh, but we’ve already determined the answer, so you can skip your explorations” presupposes there’s no value in exploring. I think the exploring is of the highest importance: it is about the skills you develop, rather than about rote memorisation of the current culture’s supposed “facts”.

    If one needs a ‘jesus’ type wise person to have existed

    I have… met, second-hand, via an atheistic friend of mine… theologians that completely agree “it doesn’t matter if he existed or not”. Me, I have also not argued that it matters… or certainly didn’t intend to. The big debate on that other thread was *purely* about whether saneman and/or gerhard would peacefully permit me to believe that there was a historical Jesus or not. That’s it. The narratives are certainly feel more powerful if I understand them to be inspired by a real person, but their value and power are actually quite independent of the factuality. (I mean, even the “feeling more powerful” element I refer to can come from “believing” it to be the case, rather than any necessary factual basis.) I unfortunately haven’t had the time to explain all of that yet.

    @Bendul #77, I’m the one calling saneman a troll, within the context of how hell-bent he is on derailing our conversations and wanting to steer them in the direction *he* wants them to go, despite my “friendly requests” to the contrary. Are you familiar with internet slang? (Wikipedia: troll, and the concept “do not feed the troll”. Origin: trolling – i.e. fishing).

    @gerhard, #79:

    why not make a post on the ‘exact.same.thinks’ so we could possibly have a sensible argument to completion about them?

    About “argument to completion”: I lack any interest in arguing something like that “to completion”: I feel us arguing about the historicity of Jesus is much like a bunch of school kids arguing about the validity of evolution. I prefer to leave it to the experts, who are knowledgable about the evidence, the historical method, etc. I’m not arrogant to think I can do a better job than the Center for Inquiry (that’s a Freethinking organisation, btw… godless heathens! ;) ). But I certainly intend to create areas where such “poisons” could be localised, to avoid poisoning the rest of our discussions. The intention is certainly to refer people to prior discussions and posts, one reason for certain planned mengelmoes features (make it particularly easy to point to prior posts etc).

    Yea, it kinda irritates me when people here, outside of their field of expertise, presume to know better than the likes of Paul Kurtz and the Center for Inquiry… They’re still open to the discussion: see my historical tag on delicious, the bookmarks from 10 December. Those are the ones I intended to draw on for my post about the historical Jesus. My intention was to blog it back in December already, but I simply haven’t gotten around to it.

    a word of warning, threaten a troll with a ban and the troll gets more excited.

    Speaking from experience, gerhard? ;-) Oh go on, admit it, in good spirits! Not that you’re a troll, just that I got you a bit more “excited” with threats to close down the blog, or to block people… (Ah, what a flip-flopper. What a Liberal!)

    FYI and OffTopic, cause I need a brief break from this comment: “kaffir”‘s origins is “unbeliever” – maybe an interesting connection to explore in cases where some conservative has overcome his racism and desire to use the word “kaffir”, but is still branding people “unbelievers!”. OK, back to the issue at hand…

    A ban would also mean you’d need to moderate each comment as there would be no way for you to limit commenting.

    Nope, not quite. It’s easier than that. Yes, there’s still ways around it, but a slightly increased barrier might deter saneman, for the reasons you comment on. You, I actually do have more hope for! ;-) You really do impress me every now and then, it would be sad for me to have to miss out on those moments… :-P

    Well, considering that i was offering an opinion your banning me for saying ‘it is moot’ would possibly show your true colors

    Good point… that’s me getting irritated at language again, showing my bias in favour of people I’ve grown to really trust. I know I can’t expect you to start every post with “OK, this is only my opinion”… that’s kinda tedious as well. I hope we can find balance.

    Hmm, saneman didn’t mention “blind” in this thread, my curiosity isn’t enough to make me dig up the context. I’d agree to having made up my mind to present myself as unmovable about one particular topic, mostly as a “test”, aka a provocation… in similar fashion with “you’ll just have to get over it” or something.

    @Thomas #80, thanks for that gem!
    @saneman #81, another gem! *grin*, concuring with @gerhard #82.

    OK, so I’ve spent more than two hours on this silly comment. Aaarrrgh! I’m going back to my planned schedule for the next two posts, headlines: “Only God Can Convert People” (warning: don’t prematurely judge my posts by their titles) and “Poking Holes All Day Long” (for which I’ve already pointed out one of the main arguments I’d be sharing: the creationists do exactly that — i.e. hole-poking makes you no better than a creationist in my opinion).

    One thought I still wanted to share:

    I don’t care about a tonne of comments as much as I care about one pair of eyes. In short: if your comment causes us to lose one pair of eyes (no offence meant to one-eyed people), you lose. More importantly: if your comment causes us to lose one interesting and thoughtful but diverse perspective, you lose. We all lose. Now when it comes to atheism, we’ve got Kenneth, we’ve got Ben’Jammin, we’ve got a couple of skeptics (that I certainly shouldn’t lump together under “atheism”, even if a pedantic understanding of the “true” meaning of the word would – in a court of law, the common meaning does bear more weight), so even in that context, saneman’s “expendable”. Until now he seems more of a liability to me than anything else: more likely to loose us some of those interesting and diverse religious eyes that I’m aiming to collect more of in the future.

    Bendul, btw: I like the intro to the Bible school, there’s much of value there! There’s really just one or two points I’d be exploring for the purpose of critical thinking (to discuss the correlation-vs-causality thing). Shucks, now I’m off topic. But just look at this monster anyway… it is now 11:30pm here, that’s 2.5 hours.

    Our discussion with Thomas seems thoroughly derailed. We lose. (Though, I might even be proved wrong about that.) If that’s the case, there’s certainly not *that* much lost if you guys discuss the historicity question. I will just have to learn to be strong and ignore things I thoroughly disagree with. “Someone is wrong on the internet!” I need to accept that some discussions are *not* necessarily badly broken if it lacks *my* way of seeing things… Just please do excuse me if I can’t resist a quick-‘n-dirty “Just for the record, I don’t agree” dropped in here and there, with no further explanation. :-P It’d make me happy! (I think.)

  • 84 Hugo // Feb 4, 2009 at 12:43 am

    I can’t believe I just wrote that monster. It contains 5347 words according to gedit’s count. My apologies to anyone that felt they were suffering while reading it, but couldn’t bring themselves to skip it. I’m certainly hoping gerhard and saneman have the patience.

    Anyway, that’s why I complain about being sucked into this kind of discussion (my weakness at not being able to resist): I could have written a blog post instead, as was my intention. If I lack time or energy tomorrow evening, it will be time for one of the “quick” posts in my queue — one of those “go read that over there, and discuss, I’ll share my thoughts in a follow-up post”. We’ll see.

    And with this, I yet again declare my intention to avoid responding to many of the comments that are probably on my way. Or maybe I’ll ask to be excused for responding here and there with just a “Well, read my #83, ’nuff said”. It’d make me happy! (I think.) ;-)

  • 85 Kenneth Oberlander // Feb 4, 2009 at 8:58 am

    @saneman #81
    I’ll admit it, I laughed!

    @Thomas

    Your ignorance of spiritual truths proves that the Bible is God’s infallible and inerrant Word.

    By your very words, your ignorance of the world outside the Bible is stunning.

    If we are going to be making arguments from authority, then I can’t do better to refute your Biblical quote than the following from Galileo:

    I do not feel obliged to believe that the same God who has endowed us with sense, reason, and intellect has intended us to forgo their use.

    How unfortunate then, that sense, reason and intellect have conclusively refuted the inerrancy of the Bible. It’s a book of mythology with some nice ideas, some truly horrible ones, and a lot of history built up around it. Nothing more.

  • 86 Amanda // Feb 4, 2009 at 10:07 am

    @ Gerhard. The Creator of heaven and earth gave us a perfect law that is written on your heart. You know it is wrong to dishonour your parents, to murder, to steal, to commit adultery, to lie and to covet that which belongs to your neighbour. Jesus Christ said that if you look at a woman with lust, then you have already committed adultery with her in your heart. God will hold you accountable for your offence against Him and the punishment is hell. This is just.

    Once you look into the mirror of God’s law, and you see yourself as He sees you, you have no option but to appeal to God’s mercy. And He is exceedingly merciful to you, a sinner. He sent his Son, Jesus Christ, who had no sin, to bear your punishment on the cross and to declare you innocent. This is the glorious exchange where Jesus Christ righteousness gets imputed to you.

    God crushed his Son on the cross in order for you to be saved. He will not open another way. You cannot enter into heaven by your good works or intentions. You cannot enter into heaven by doing religion. You can only enter by agreeing with God that you are a sinner and by accepting that Jesus Christ has done it all and has done it well in your place.

    “Moderates’ who deny that this is the only way are false teachers. They may tickle your ears, tell you what you would like to hear, but they will lead you to hell. Christians acknowledge their own depravity and boast about their Savior. It is not arrogance. We should proclaim that salvation is freely available to whosoever shall believe. This is the Good News and it is sealed by the eye witness accounts of Jesus Christ’s resurrection.

    Shame on Thomas if he should hide the truth of God’s Word by not declaring it authoritatively.

    Shame on Hugo if he should, as a Christian, castigate a brother for being a true witness.

    Gerhard, if Hugo does not allow Thomas to answer your excellent questions, please go to the Bible. A the very least read the Gospel of John to see for yourself if these things are so?

    @ Hugo: I have read your epistle and I think I understand that saneman and Gerhard is in danger of you breaking off the relationship, but it is not clear whether Thomas has been ditched or not. Has he?

  • 87 Hugo // Feb 4, 2009 at 10:20 am

    Sorry Amanda, I have exhausted the energy I have for comments, so I can’t comment in-depth on yours. I expect gerhard will explain to you the problem with your suggestion that he reads John to “see for himself”.

    There are a number of questions of mine that have also remained unanswered. Maybe you can tell me about this:

    According to Matthew: “…he answered and said, I am not sent but unto the lost sheep of the house of Israel.” So, unless you’re Jewish, Jesus wasn’t talking to you.

    I’ll write about John in a post some time, that I can refer to it. I’ve touched on it a couple of times in comments, but I can only do that so many times.

    Shame on Hugo if he should, as a Christian, castigate a brother for being a true witness.

    Don’t call me a Christian. I call myself at most a follower of Jesus… (And that was often the only call to salvation that Jesus made… “follow me!”) I don’t want to be associated with your “truths”, I don’t care for labels. Don’t call me a Christian.

    Shame on Hugo if he should, as a Christian, castigate a brother for being a true witness.

    All glory to you for castigating me for being a witness to what I understand of the Bible. *sigh*. Yea, that’s slightly sarcastic. When I have time and energy, I will explain what I understand of Jesus’ teachings. Then you can come back and let me know what you think of it.

    Whoever wants to take this discussion, *enjoy*. It’s a free-for-all, I’ll even enjoy seeing if saneman can keep a discussion going for any considerable amount of time. (I’m honestly curious!)

    /me grabs some popcorn and sits back to watch.

  • 88 Hugo // Feb 4, 2009 at 10:22 am

    (Re: saneman and this discussion, my requests in that long comment still hold, I still expect some form of apology or admission to having been wrong, I’m only backing down for this one particular thread. Until the weekend, probably. I’ll rather spend my time writing the next blog post or two.)

  • 89 Kenneth Oberlander // Feb 4, 2009 at 11:35 am

    @Amanda
    Much as I appreciate your obvious passion and sincerity:

    Jesus Christ said that if you look at a woman with lust, then you have already committed adultery with her in your heart.

    No you haven’t If you do this, you’re committing the terrible crime of being human.

    God will hold you accountable for your offence against Him and the punishment is hell. This is just.

    No it isn’t Eternal damnation for thinking a woman is hot. You don’t see anything wrong with this?

    And He is exceedingly merciful to you, a sinner.

    No he isn’t If he was, he would just forgive us, and have done.

    God crushed his Son on the cross in order for you to be saved.

    Technically, god didn’t do anything to his son. More technically, he wasn’t crushed, he was hanged. Even more technically, to assume the limited sins of a flawed humanity for a small period of time should mean nothing to an eternal, omnibenevolent being. The example ne plus ultra of technicality: an omnipotent god wouldn’t need to do anything like this in the first place.

    He will not open another way. You cannot enter into heaven by your good works or intentions. You cannot enter into heaven by doing religion. You can only enter by agreeing with God that you are a sinner and by accepting that Jesus Christ has done it all and has done it well in your place.

    You sound absolutely definite. How can you be certain your claims are true?

    “Moderates’ who deny that this is the only way are false teachers.

    Sorry Hugo, you might as well pack it all in and give up right now. ;-)

    Christians acknowledge their own depravity and boast about their Savior.

    What depravity?

    It is not arrogance.

    You’re perfectly correct, if you can justify the existence of said saviour in the first place.

    We should proclaim that salvation is freely available to whosoever shall believe. This is the Good News and it is sealed by the eye witness accounts of Jesus Christ’s resurrection.

    Leaving aside the obvious controversy surrounding the last sentence, if you have the right to proclaim about the foundations of your faith, then I have the right to ask you hard questions about the foundations of your faith.

    Shame on Thomas if he should hide the truth of God’s Word by not declaring it authoritatively.

    I thought that is exactly what he did. He wasn’t convincing, to my mind, but that’s just me.

    Shame on Hugo if he should, as a Christian, castigate a brother for being a true witness.

    I think that is exactly why Hugo is castigating him.

    Gerhard, if Hugo does not allow Thomas to answer your excellent questions, please go to the Bible. A the very least read the Gospel of John to see for yourself if these things are so?

    I suspect gerhard knows quite a bit about the Bible.

    I also suspect that the answers in John are not satisfactory to his mind…

  • 90 gerhard // Feb 4, 2009 at 11:36 am

    Add to that more myths that people might believe and understand in different ways, with some believing it says “go blow yourself up in a suicide attack” and the other believes it is only about maintaining a culture to avoid the breakdown of society. If the suicide bombing party might be open to hearing another way of seeing his beloved scripture, but not at all open to accepting it as “worthless, to be ignored”, isn’t it valuable to have an argument about the meaning of said myth?

    hmmm, yes, in an ideal fairy land yes. But , in reality, people who are blowing themselves up have more motivations , like money , social standing etc. Also I dont consider us being able to talk about a nonwestern society like that , hell, we don’t really do the whole church/state organized stoning / raping / mutilation / torture / murder.. stuff.. so i think, they basically are a tiny little fraction away from suicide bombs already and it doesnt take much to cross that line.

    And you’d leave enough scope to avoid triggering me again, knowing full well how I feel about such a blatant dismissal without adequate reason.

    And you’d leave enough scope to avoid triggering saneman again, knowing full well how some feel about such a blatant acceptance without adequate reason. (isnt this the root of the arguments, your blind acceptance and sanmans/gerhards blatant dismissal)

    Wrong again. We’re in a discussion about burning in hell for all eternity. If you are unable to see the difference, you’re not welcome on this blog. Admit there is a difference, or go away and don’t come back. That is a friendly request.

    wtf? now you’re being a bit of an ostridge and choosing to take his words literal. you know exactly he was talking figuratively.

    As I understand it, you are talking about me emotionally responding to Thomas? This is something I find worth pondering.

    no , i am saying you’re generally very emotional when it comes to criticism of your ideas or when things don’t go the way they are planned. thomas was just a good example of your getting , emotional.

    Now the reason I do this, and I get personal, is in response to Thomas sending me, us all, to hell for all eternity.

    huh? so you don’t like his arbitrary restrictions apposed to your arbitrary restrictions? And you don’t understand why saneman calls it angles dancing on pins talk?

    In my experiences, moderates typically refrain from talking about angels-on-a-pin, preferring to talk about the “big principles and values”. In my experiene, these angels-on-a-pin thing happens when fundamentalists are directing the conversation.

    I’ve witnessed several of those discussions here on this blog between you and atheistic type people who’ll entertain you. Besides my general experience suggest otherwise. (mostly in my adult life i’ve dealt with so called moderates)

    Thomas, please correct me if I’m wrong, or explain where I haven’t got the details right:

    I know already , i just want him to say it. Implying everyone goes to hell and saying it flat out have very different psychological reprocussions .. hearing yourself say something “silly” to people who you “know” clearly think otherwise can make you think about what you’re saying.

    “Before you can participate, you *must first* learn to deal with intolerant and bigoted sarcasm” is not an acceptable requirement here. I am trying to do what I can to avoid it becoming one. If that means I have to block saneman, or you, then I must block.

    yes, if it was intolerant and bigoted sarcasm.. It wasn’t tho. the sarcasm was referring to the conversation. Hell, may if he was more tollerant and less bigoted and said something to this extent ‘my way , my arbirary restrictions on how you’re supposed live and act, or you’ll get punished eternally by the most fucked up things our human mind can imagine or at the very least , stop being so bigoted with your opposing intolerant ideas and i’ll ban you.” then maybe he’ll start acting ‘acceptable’. (see what i did there , used sarcasm to point out the lesser of two evils)

    Please think again, and admit you’re arguing the same thing as “saneman’s sandals” here. Please tell me you can recognise the difference between an argument about the colour of the sky and something about “where you’ll spend an afterlife”.

    yes, they are the same thing . Afterlife, sandals , red sky . same thing. :P Its not like you’re arguing if there is an afterlife. you’re debating the shade of afterlife. You’re speculating on 3rd order speculation. Asking yourselves how many angels are dancing on that pin. (not if there is a pin, not if there are angels , not how many will fit on the pin but how many can dance on that pin. )

    No real thinking or purpose here , just talking about what the queen in the reptilian guise wants to do with those live chickens she keeps in her dresser. whether or not she’s going to use the bones for witchcraft or whether the feathers will be used to tickle her nose.

    Hence, I argue against “myth is bad and worthless”, and I argue “the Bible isn’t bad and worthless”, because only once the value of those things are kept in mind, can we sanely have expectations to point out the mythological nature of e.g. the first… 11? chapters of Genesis. (And again, I’m going for minimal statements here, seeking common ground.)

    nuances… nuances…
    agreed , myths are not bad and worthless.. (agreement? my god , how did that happen? ) As such , the bible , taught as myth and taught has holding some worth and some good is acceptable but only when it is not raised above almost all other myths.

    Arrogance is assuming your way is the only way. Wait, that sounds familiar… doesn’t it?

    yes, like asking uncompromisingly for a compromise :) [ i will keep bringing this up until you understand why that and freedom are incompatible[the actual reasons neo-nazis and white power hate groups are allowed in america]]

    if you end up with people with their fingers in their ears, you lose. Know what I mean?

    I’d say you only loose if the person stabs himself in the eardrum. (like those heavens gate people) otherwise fingers come out again every now and then because they start hurting.

    the big debate on that other thread was *purely* about whether saneman and/or gerhard would peacefully permit me to believe that there was a historical Jesus or not. That’s it.

    If there is reason to do then yes. the same as i would permit thomas his view that everyone but his variation on the ‘cult’ goes to hell within his framework (sorry not meant as jab you thomas) . However, the framework you’re working from is different , so i am holding you too it. By your framework, one that also values truth in facts, rational reasoning etc then your belief is wrong. Right now we’ve peeled back layer after layer, and so far , i can only see two rationalized points left. Ones that i have argued as being irrational. Too which you instead of listening or responding too have confronted with placing your head firmly in the sand. I’m enjoying that discussion , so i am early awaiting the post on the subject. I find it funny how desperately people are rationalizing this whole topic. Historians a like.

    The narratives are certainly feel more powerful if I understand them to be inspired by a real person, but their value and power are actually quite independent of the factuality.

    exactly , and thats the reason i care if he existed or not. If he did , it gives more credence to the whole thing. So him having been gandalf vs having been hitler are very very important distinctions to make esp if this makes it way into scientific thinking. Remember , we’re in a situation of purification of understanding right now, we literally woke up as a species within a lotr tale because we were starting from scratch, and are slowly separating the peanuts from the shite.

    I feel us arguing about the historicity of Jesus is much like a bunch of school kids arguing about the validity of evolution. I prefer to leave it to the experts, who are knowledgable about the evidence, the historical method, etc. I’m not arrogant to think I can do a better job than the Center for Inquiry.

    yes, its tough having to be part of a free thinking society which doesn’t have authoritarian priests to simply things for you by informing you what your opinion is. I myself , who isnt an expert or pretends to be, is only capable of evaluating what such experts say. And as the opposition to ‘consensus’ make a more lucid argument. I see this situation as this: several years ago was the first time people were able to ‘mention’ evolution exists, the evidence is there, right now however to go against that is to go against god and face social and possibly eternal hell. So what arguments can you make for the sake of disagreement ? rhetoric argumentation , like ‘oh yeah , what about alexander!’ Well, i say that is fine and good, but at least compare apples to oranges. Alexander had contemporary writing about him and his deeds , people who wrote about meeting him also didn’t have admitted self-interest. Just think about it? Do you know an mundane details about jesus’s every day life? Any trace? why is it that lesser popular meshias in that time , sometimes even predating jesus have left at least _some_ trace of their existance? why is your main argument the authority of others like you’re referring me to a priest?

    re: kaffir comment ..
    christ , i sooo want to use the word in that context. I love how christians used someone elses word (its aribic) and made it into poison. Black people in south africa used to say with pride ‘ek is ‘n kaffir’ it was a source of pride not to be as fucked up as these white people who live in lala land. then white people started applying it to christain black people and it became an insult :)
    I personally think its an much better reflection of the social status of being ‘atheist’ than ‘gay’ .
    No atheist aren’t the new gays , they are the new kaffirs. (in that vain, the ‘kap se kaffirs’, would be the cape town community of atheists)
    pitty you can’t register that ngo here anymore.

    ok, so i may have spent an hour with this reply.. It is a long response to a long comment :)

  • 91 Hugo // Feb 4, 2009 at 12:15 pm

    Oh, here’s an old post that is relevant to the whole topic of “if you so much as *look* at a woman”: Holy Shofar. Yea, it’s a bit sucky, I will pull out the main thoughts in that, and probably expand on it a bit, and place it in an independent post that is unrelated to Shofar — that’s just what inspired me to write that post at that time.

    I’d be happy to have a conversation relating to the subject matter of that post, in comments below that post. But let’s try to keep *that* thread on-topic. The other stuff can go here.

  • 92 Bendul // Feb 4, 2009 at 12:36 pm

    hmmm, yes, in an ideal fairy land yes. But , in reality, people who are blowing themselves up have more motivations , like money , social standing etc.

    Gerhard: sorry, but you are the lucky scapegoat this time around. I think it will be healthy are good for the blog if we all read through our comments and reflect a moment before posting.

    More than the obvious logical incogruency of a statement such as this (which I am tempted to explain, but I’d like [in a perfect] to argue if you don’t see it you shouldn’t be commenting on Hugo’s posts); we should be asking ourselves what we mean to achieve by asking certain questions in a certain way

    I really hope I did not offend you Gerhard, otherwise my “call to sensitivity” would be somewhat hypocritical.

  • 93 Bendul // Feb 4, 2009 at 12:37 pm

    This could also possibly lead to shorter threads, which, YAY! I then might be able to view on my iPhone again!

  • 94 Amanda // Feb 4, 2009 at 12:47 pm

    @ Hugo: I would love to get back to you about the lost sheep of Israel as soon as I can. So, has Thomas been ditched?

    @ Kenneth Oberlander: I know that this is so, because God’s Word declares is it to be so. In Isa 53 you can read what the Lord foretold and so it happened. The eyewitnesses confirmed it and they were prepared to die rather than deny the risen Saviour.

    We are quick to justify our own actions and to deny the sinfulness of sin, but should someone sin against us, then we demand a just judge who will give them what they deserve for breaking the law. But see how God did it: “Now we know that whatever the law says it speaks to those who are under the law, so that every mouth may be stopped, and the whole world may be held accountable to God. For by works of the law no human being will be justified in his sight, since through the law comes knowledge of sin. But now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the law, although the Law and the Prophets bear witness to it– the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe. For there is no distinction: for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith. This was to show God’s righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins. It was to show his righteousness at the present time, so that he might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.
    Rom 3:19-26

    This is what fundamentalists believe and what you find so offensive and, maybe, unsatisfactory. But that is all that we have to offer you: For Jews demand signs and Greeks seek wisdom, but we preach Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and folly to Gentiles, but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. For the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men.
    1Co 1:22-25

  • 95 Kenneth Oberlander // Feb 4, 2009 at 1:00 pm

    @Amanda
    I’m afraid your Bible quotes mean little to me. I have read them, but don’t see any direct relation to my previous post.

    This is what fundamentalists believe and what you find so offensive and, maybe, unsatisfactory. But that is all that we have to offer you:

    Then, to be honest, it is both offensive and unsatisfactory. A god with such a malevolent outlook on his own helpless creations does not deserve my worship. He deserves my contempt.

    That is beside the issue of whether or not your beliefs are true. Which, I’m afraid, is not answered by the circular argument of using the Bible to prove the Bible.

  • 96 Amanda // Feb 4, 2009 at 1:12 pm

    @ Kenneth Oberlander

    Then, to be honest, it is both offensive and unsatisfactory. A god with such a malevolent outlook on his own helpless creations does not deserve my worship. He deserves my contempt.

    I appreciate your honesty and you clearly stating what you believe. I am confused about Hugo’s stand about not being a Christian, but a Christ follower. It is a puzzlement!

  • 97 gerhard // Feb 4, 2009 at 1:17 pm

    @others still listening:
    Amanda is being perfectly reasonable with her assertions from the framework she’s working from. There is no need to attack her. Attacking her is as productive as hitting a mute person for not having hearing the lottery numbers on the radio.

    amanda: thanks for the reply, I very much appreciate it, please don’t perceive what i am about to say as a sort of attack. I am merely trying to further understanding. both of your view and mine. (i could possibly learn something from you)

    a perfect law that is written on your heart

    It is written in our hearts? Really? alot of people haven’t heard of the christain way or teachings. As such they don’t follow these christain teachings. Some cultures infact have a very opposing view to some of the things listed. So are they just ‘ignoring’ that? if their culture treats those things differently and it is human nature to partake in your culture by default then why would god ‘want’ to punish them? if its part of your culture then probably you’d be ignorant of another way. Doesn’t he really punish people who are innocent by ignorance? (is this a case where your variety of christanity says ‘purgatory’ ).

    Once you look into the mirror of God’s law, and you see yourself as He sees you, you have no option but to appeal to God’s mercy. And He is exceedingly merciful to you, a sinner.

    so, if you look in that mirror and you like what you see and then god must like you too? cool. i think this is what hugo was saying tho? ‘follow gods way , not god’s religion made by man’

    You can only enter by agreeing with God that you are a sinner and by accepting that Jesus Christ has done it all and has done it well in your place.

    looking at a women in lust (a prerequisite for you to be able to judge attractiveness) would make me a sinner by default , i could not as a married human even look at a women without committing adultry and hence would most definitely be a sinner :) so god in his infinite wisdom made me a sinner by default but telling me not to sin which i can’t do because of the way he designed me.. thats a rather bad position to be in as a human if i may say so. what scares me is that it sounds a lot like a human raising dog to attack without consideration but then expect from it not to attack without consideration. That would strike me as a little bit ‘rough and mean’ on the dog.
    I have a question about the jesus bit, (i’m not saying this because i’m picking a fight, just trying to clarify something) well, if i am honest to both me and god, then how can i say that?
    from what i know jesus allowed for me to be able to regret my sinning and allowed for god to re-accept me as good and into the kindom of heaven. But it is left up to me to choose to be re-accepted by him , then wasn’t it me who actually did the saving myself? So doesnt that mean , I was a the ones who saved myself, jesus may have given me a platform to repent from but it was god who condemned me and me who earned the re-acceptence?

    Moderates’ who deny that this is the only way are false teachers.

    yes i also have issues with picking and choosing to such degrees from the ‘perfect word’ of god.

    they may tickle your ears, tell you what you would like to hear, but they will lead you to hell. Christians acknowledge their own depravity and boast about their Savior. It is not arrogance. We should proclaim that salvation is freely available to whosoever shall believe

    agreed, arrogance of the moderates is the fact that they and only _they_ know what isn’t the true ‘perfect’ word of their god. All five hundred million variations there of.

    Shame on Thomas if he should hide the truth of God’s Word by not declaring it authoritatively.

    to be fair , thomas has tried. He just needs to comment more. I think the conversation went in the direction where he was about to make a point but got muted somehow. It would be great to hear the authoritative word of god.

    Shame on Hugo if he should, as a Christian, castigate a brother for being a true witness.

    Gerhard, if Hugo does not allow Thomas to answer your excellent questions, please go to the Bible. A the very least read the Gospel of John to see for yourself if these things are so?

    please , don’t judge hugo , that’s gods work. at the very least i’m very willing to entertain his thoughts or authority if he will allow me the same privilege :)

    ok, so to further conversation a bit more, i would like to know some things from you. What is your view on when the bible was written? Was it directly passed down by god? if Not ? What works is it was based on? Who / what gave them the authority of ‘selecting’ from those variations? basically i just want to get an overview of how much you know about the history of the bible? (at least according to the roman catholic church, historians and scholars)

    Hugo will let thomas answer if thomas wants. This is a place of free speech which is admirably hugo’s doing. He just throws his toys out of the cott every now and then, and i’m thankfull for that because it means we’re not all the same :) from experience , patience is key here.

  • 98 gerhard // Feb 4, 2009 at 1:22 pm

    amanda : before i forget , i have read what you asked me to. I just am hearing proclamations. sorry. I just don’t understand it.

  • 99 gerhard // Feb 4, 2009 at 1:24 pm

    ken :

    I suspect gerhard knows quite a bit about the Bible.

    I also suspect that the answers in John are not satisfactory to his mind…

    yes, assertions are … well .. tricky .. john just confused the matter more for me. *G* I honestly tried to find truth tho. you gotta give me credit for that. :)

  • 100 Kenneth Oberlander // Feb 4, 2009 at 1:26 pm

    @Amanda

    I appreciate your honesty and you clearly stating what you believe.

    A question. I am not a Christian. By your posts, I am going to Hell. Eternal torment. Forever. neverending, ultimate, non-stop excruciating pain. Does this not strike you as a hypocritical position for a forgiving and loving god to hold?

    I agree with gerhard (#97) as regards his position on lust.

    @gerhard

    from what i know jesus allowed for me to be able to regret my sinning and allowed for god to re-accept me as good and into the kindom of heaven. But it is left up to me to choose to be re-accepted by him , then wasn’t it me who actually did the saving myself? So doesnt that mean , I was a the ones who saved myself, jesus may have given me a platform to repent from but it was god who condemned me and me who earned the re-acceptence?

    This is linked to the interesting moral ramifications of damning the children for the parents sins…not a very just or forgiving thing to do…

  • 101 Kenneth Oberlander // Feb 4, 2009 at 1:27 pm

    @gerhard
    Perhaps you should read John in the same way you read LotR?

    ;-)

  • 102 gerhard // Feb 4, 2009 at 1:47 pm

    ken

    Does this not strike you as a hypocritical position for a forgiving and loving god to hold?

    Are you saying dog isnt allowed to set limitations on his forgiving and loving nature? Even if he clearly states that he has?

    kenneth , i am _still_ reading Lotr i think the lord has coded secret messages and meanings in it that i must find:P I will read john again tho. possibly i am thinking too much about what i am supposed to be finding ..

  • 103 Kenneth Oberlander // Feb 4, 2009 at 1:55 pm

    @gerhard
    I take it you know the Euthyphro dilemma?

    Is what is moral commanded by God because it is moral, or is it moral because it is commanded by God?

    Or the problem of evil?

    Is God willing to prevent evil, but not able?
    Then he is not Omnipotent.
    Is he able but not willing?
    Then he is malevolent.
    Is God both able and willing?
    Then whence cometh evil?
    Is he neither able nor willing?
    Then why call him God?
    – Epicurus (341-270 BCE)

  • 104 gerhard // Feb 4, 2009 at 2:24 pm

    ken : ah :) beginners

    Is God both able and willing?
    Then whence cometh evil?

    from god? why not? he’s the one who gives meaning to the word ‘existance’? malevolent implies a certain degree of wanting to do harm. So if a parent grounds/beats a kid for its own good then is that malevolent? So him setting the limit ‘ if you harm others i will harm you’ is reasonable isn’t it? :) (remember he had to give u the ability to choose to do harm, and hence for you to do good you need to be able to do harm otherwise there would be no importance of good, there would only be the way.)

    Is he neither able nor willing? Then why call him God?

    I personally prefer calling him john anway :)

  • 105 saneman // Feb 4, 2009 at 2:25 pm

    @hugo: Ok seriously relax, I understand I am attacking your core beliefs of your life and that must be annoying you ad nauseum, but thats just hard lines you wanted to talk about yours and others beliefs in the open.

    If I come across as condescending that is because I am not religious and don’t have any knee jerk reactions to blasphemes statements. I thankfully was not primed and brainwashed as a child. The very fact that you are getting so upset and making such long posts just proves that a few lines of sarcasm goes a long way in cutting through the fluff and waffle and getting to the heart of the matter. Why you believe what you currently do and how you got there. And I’m not talking about how you felt jesus’s love on your face during a long walk on the beach or your feelings of desperation, frustration from personal tragedy. Why dont you believe in a historical Mohammand and the Koran or any one of the other thousands of religions.

    FACTS:
    there are thousands of different religions
    there is no evidence that your particular flavour of god exists

    Now I know you are a clever guy and no one is denying that but:

    Wrong again. We’re in a discussion about burning in hell for all eternity.

    You need to stop being condescending and telling people they are wrong about things you couldn’t possibly in your wildest dreams actually know for a fact.

    The very fact that you are worried about hell and if you are going there.
    I MEAN COME ON!!!
    you have just leap frogged the point of whether krypton actually exists and are now arguing(a fellow kryptonian who also thinks he is in the royal guard of krypton) who gets to go and who doesn’t and wtf is Kal-El coming back and all of this based on the different interpretations and cherry picking of a book that has gone through such a matrix of rewrites and edits that we actually have no idea what it is.

    Now where do you get off telling people that X topic or X method of discussion is useless ?????
    or that a person pointing out that the current subject matter is not grounded in reality and can and will not prove anything and is useless.

    Surely if you create a topic like:
    “Please Refrain from “Anti-Moderates” Rhetoric”
    when you are yourself a moderate is just asking for a sarcasm.

    You constantly go on about how your end goal is to bring fundamentalists in from the ledge, but thats all you want to do !!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    stuff getting the person to think for themselves you just want them to subscribe to your particular interpretation of your preferred myth.

    Now stop getting emotional and threatening to ban people and accusing them of condescension when its just you knee jerking to things you don’t want to hear.

    We are talking about superheros so don’t get upset when someone mentions your hero’s Kryptonite or that the conversation is actually just about super hero’s.

    If you want to have a personal private conversation in your living room reassuring yourself about your beliefs and how you think everyone should subscribe to your way of thinking without anyone being allowed to criticize. Then ban everyone and invite the 3 people who will play by your specific rules.

    else make peace with the fact that there are huge, massive, gargantuan holes in your LIFE theories and that people are bound to point them out.

    and hugo please remember one thing:
    The cleverer you are the better you are at rationalizing your beliefs.

    and I think you are pretty clever

    :)

  • 106 Kenneth Oberlander // Feb 4, 2009 at 2:30 pm

    @gerhard

    So him setting the limit ‘ if you harm others i will harm you’ is reasonable isn’t it?

    Not if your god is omnibenevolent and all-forgiving.

    I personally prefer calling him john anway

    Hah! Does he respond?

  • 107 gerhard // Feb 4, 2009 at 3:50 pm

    ken: ha, I can prove that there are limits to infinity.
    take a circle, draw an infinite amount of lines going from the center of the circle to the perimeter all the way around. What do you get? A filled circle? rememberer , you are talking about lines to the n’th degree. the spaces between the lines becomes infinitely small panning out towards zero but never reaching it. Now extend that circles once you’re done and make it bigger so that the previous one fits inside the new one. extend the lines you’ve down to the perimeter of the second circle? what do you see? infinite space. So really , the first mention of infinity is worthless as a limitless ‘infinity’. We’ve just proven that infinity is an multi-dimentional exponent of infinity. Itself. So however infinitely big infinity is that is how infinitely small it will be. And hence why it has limit. :P

    why this relates , it should deliver conceptual proof as to why , god can be limitlessly bad for him to be limitlessly good. as long as god doesnt put limits on the punishment of ‘bad’ , which i don’t think he doesn’t. Then logically it should be sound.

    I feel sorry for whoever read the above stuff.. It took me ages to wrap my head around that and I had a much better teacher than what i am.

    getting back to the ‘u need good for bad and vice versa thing’ you need a little bit of dualism to give those meaning .. so if Euthyphro’s god could not be a infinite benevolent being without being malevolent. Then why call him God?

    he does respond btw, in my dream when on acid.

  • 108 saneman // Feb 4, 2009 at 3:52 pm

    @Kenneth: omnibenevolent nice big word hehehe

    waffle:
    so creating man with an inquiring intelligent mind, is a double edged sword because he needs the intelligence to survive and prosper in this harsh semi inhabitable planet but its not so good when that mind is able to question there own existence and then there supposed creator.
    But if the creator doesn’t answer, is it because:

    a)man can’t hear the reply because man is not a god himself

    b)god chooses not to answer

    c)god does answer provided you have your heart open to jesus

    d) god does answer but only to those already primed by fellow believers putting enormous pressure on the person to hear god and fit in.

  • 109 Bendul // Feb 4, 2009 at 4:28 pm

    @ almost everyone except Hugo & Kenneth

    This is me saying enjoy the rest of the thread. I am bored with hearing the same arguments over and over. Everyone here is too right all the time for me to be able to stay in the conversation.

    If no-one sees any value in being certain, without being right; then we are out of two different worlds of intellectual reference. Unfortunately I have to conclude, from the conversation so far, these worlds are at war. I’m not interested in making war with anyone but myself. Thats why I read this blog. (read comment 54 & wiki “catharsis”)

  • 110 Kenneth Oberlander // Feb 4, 2009 at 5:12 pm

    @gerhard

    ken: ha, I can prove that there are limits to infinity.

    I seem to remember there being formal mathematical proofs for different kinds of infinity…I’ll check up on this. Any mathematicians following this conversation?

    why this relates , it should deliver conceptual proof as to why , god can be limitlessly bad for him to be limitlessly good. as long as god doesnt put limits on the punishment of ‘bad’ , which i don’t think he doesn’t. Then logically it should be sound.

    Actually, no…I don’t think this holds. There can be an infinite number of lines within an otherwise finite space: it is the basis for integral calculus, as I recall. I don’t think that goodness/badness can be so easily translated into formal geometry such as the radius of a circle…Hugo, surely you can help out with this…engineers need calculus!

    @saneman
    I can throw in omnicognizant, but that would just be showing off… ;-)

    @all
    Will check in again tomorrow. I need to finish final changes to thesis…

  • 111 saneman // Feb 4, 2009 at 5:12 pm

    @Bendul: how come when ever religious discussion get heated war is mentioned?

    Certainty can be defined as either
    (a) perfect knowledge that is total security from error,
    or
    (b) the mental state of being without doubt.

    just a friendly question:
    surely being certain about god X’s existence, then being certain about which text to use to decipher the mind of god X then being certain about which interpretation of said text to use, then jump all the way to being certain about who gets punished ie knowing the mind of god X.

    now thats a lot of certainty, but obviously they can’t all be right unless you are using b

    so what certainty are you talking about? a or b
    I am sure that a) cant be interpreted 2 ways:
    1. )is perfect knowledge of the word of god
    2.) having perfect evidence and proof of god existence and will

    where as b is simply a delusion of the mind

    this is a reactionary comment as you allude to in #54

    do you think that emotional comments play a part of these types of discussions?

  • 112 Bendul // Feb 4, 2009 at 5:37 pm

    Definitely certainty B.

    I don’t believe in the existence of certainty A: Knowledge that exists without personal commitment.

    When I say “being right all the time” I am referring to a relational posture.

  • 113 Amanda // Feb 4, 2009 at 9:47 pm

    @Gerhard and Kenneth Oberlander: Thank you for your courteous and considered responses. As to all your questions, no, I do not know enough, nor do I have the ability to answer it in way that will satisfy you. For that you can find good apologetics sites on the Internet. I will only repeat myself and keep quoting the Bible at you. :)

    @Hugo: Jy het reeds twee keer gekies om nie my vraag of jy Thomas verban het te antwoord nie. Ek sal nou maar op sy blog gaan vra of hy weggehardloop het of nie.

  • 114 gerhard // Feb 4, 2009 at 11:41 pm

    Ken : brilliant ! haha darn there goes my attempt to justify god using geometry and infinities. :P I wonder if it would have sounded convincing to the pro Monohydrodioxide ban crowd?

    bendul: So whats your personal commitment with the knowledge of the moon?

  • 115 Bendul // Feb 4, 2009 at 11:57 pm

    Well when there isn’t smoke from raging fires, generally I can see the moon. I can see its effect of illumination often times, even when I can’t see it itself, and I’ve heard a lot of stories about it, and see no serious reason to believe that no-one has ever walked on there.

    I have made very few personal commitments to knowing the moon, therefore my knowledge thereof is extremely limited. Hence the greater my commitment, the greater my knowledge should become.

  • 116 Hugo // Feb 5, 2009 at 2:47 am

    A thought I came across yet again in a conversation tonight: “listen to what I mean, not to what I say!” Connects well with the “poking holes all day long” post’s subject matter. A post of which I’ve written one sentence, ’cause I was having a conversation rather than writing the post. And for the record, there are a number of commenters that have visited my blog, and that visit my blog, that really suck at that basic principle. ;-)

  • 117 Ben-Jammin' // Feb 5, 2009 at 2:54 am

    I seem to remember there being formal mathematical proofs for different kinds of infinity…I’ll check up on this. Any mathematicians following this conversation?

    How about a math nerd? Yes, infinities can be larger than each other.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Georg_Cantor

    …By proving that there are (infinitely) many possible sizes for infinite sets, Cantor established that set theory was not trivial, and it needed to be studied…

    In one of his earliest papers, Cantor proved that the set of real numbers is “more numerous” than the set of natural numbers; this showed, for the first time, that there exist infinite sets of different sizes. He was also the first to appreciate the importance of one-to-one correspondences (hereinafter denoted “1-to-1″) in set theory. He used this concept to define finite and infinite sets, subdividing the latter into denumerable (or countably infinite) sets and uncountable sets (nondenumerable infinite sets)…

  • 118 Ben-Jammin' // Feb 5, 2009 at 2:59 am

    (Now I’ll return to the peanut gallery…)

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/35092580@N04/3254628046/

  • 119 Hugo // Feb 5, 2009 at 3:07 am

    @Kenneth, whose comment is just about the only one I’ve really read since I stated “I’m back this weekend maybe”:

    I can prove there are an equal number of rational numbers as natural numbers (positive whole numbers). But I can’t exactly remember the proof for “there are more irrational numbers than rational numbers”. I just vaguely remember one of the “diagrams”. That would be countably infinite vs uncountably infinite. And I understand there to be more infinites… Ask Ben’Jammin when he’s around, maybe? He’s a mathematician.

    ken: ha, I can prove that there are limits to infinity.

    Bah! Humbug! Idle musings without decent rigour that has any mathematician’s hair stand on end! ;-) Be careful with the word “proof”.

    I’ve picked up some sentences here and there to glean some enjoyment out of the discussion, but I’ll sit down with my popcorn on a day I have enough time, to get a full appreciation for what transpired.

    I’m also wondering if this discussion might be such that I might mirror/echo saneman’s #59, to make a point… ;-) Just to “keep you guys rooted in reality” as saneman would say. (I’m in good spirits right now, comments in good humour…)

    Aargh! I just noticed in gmail that Ben’Jammin had just commented, while I was writing this one. Sweet! I’ll join him in the peanut gallery. No wait, I’m *not* a heckler, I’m *not* in the peanut gallery. I’m more the silent type when observing, y’know? Whateva… I actually don’t even *like* popcorn. But it’s what it represents that counts!

  • 120 Bendul // Feb 5, 2009 at 3:09 am

    OK.
    Now this post is truly over my head. WHAT ARE WE TALKING ABOUT AGAIN?

  • 121 Bendul // Feb 5, 2009 at 3:12 am

    Hugo! New post Pretty please!

  • 122 Kenneth Oberlander // Feb 5, 2009 at 8:18 am

    @Amanda

    For that you can find good apologetics sites on the Internet.

    Except that they don’t answer the questions I asked satisfactorily. I have yet to see a convincing refutation of Euthyphro, or the problem of evil.

    @Ben-Jammin
    Thanks! Exactly what I was thinking of…

    @Hugo

    I can prove there are an equal number of rational numbers as natural numbers (positive whole numbers).

    Hold on. Aren’t natural numbers a subset of rational numbers?

  • 123 saneman // Feb 5, 2009 at 8:50 am

    anyone follow this catoon:
    http://www.jesusandmo.net/

  • 124 Ben-Jammin' // Feb 5, 2009 at 9:03 am

    Hold on. Aren’t natural numbers a subset of rational numbers?

    Yes, but:

    A fundamental theorem due to Georg Cantor shows that it is possible for infinite sets to have different cardinalities, and in particular the set of real numbers and the set of natural numbers do not have the same cardinal number. It is also possible for a proper subset of an infinite set to have the same cardinality as the original set, something that cannot happen with proper subsets of finite sets.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cardinal_number

    The proof can be found at:
    http://answers.yahoo.com/question/index?qid=20080923105748AAJHy83

  • 125 Kenneth Oberlander // Feb 5, 2009 at 9:12 am

    @saneman
    I do. It’s generally quite amusing!

  • 126 gerhard // Feb 5, 2009 at 9:13 am

    bendul : i honestly don’t know , I’d think lots of knowledge relies on my personal commitment for it to exist. The tides go on whether or not i want it to happen or belief. I walk by taking a series of stumbles , which my body managed to figure out before i was conscious. (at least conscious like i am now, with understanding , able to make personal commitment).

    Should i take it that you also don’t believe in absolute knowledge or true knowledge either?

    I thought science was the attempt to cope with personal commitment. Move knowlrge out of the mind of the one into the mind of the many. Thereby minimizing the corruptive force of the individual?

  • 127 gerhard // Feb 5, 2009 at 9:15 am

    saneman : i do :) religiously ! haha

  • 128 Amanda // Feb 5, 2009 at 9:24 am

    @ Gerhard and Kenneth Oberlander:

    Except that they don’t answer the questions I asked satisfactorily. I have yet to see a convincing refutation of Euthyphro, or the problem of evil.

    I am sorry that I cannot answer your questions. I can only point you to the Law and the Gospel and plead with you to search the Scriptures. (Repeating myself already.) If you cannot see your need to be saved, then you have no use for a Saviour. And if Jesus Christ did not bodily rise from the grave, then you can safely toss out the whole Bible.

    The moderates try to accommodate your unbelief by softening or outright denying what the Bible clearly teaches and so trick you into their kingdom. You should feel insulted.

  • 129 saneman // Feb 5, 2009 at 9:29 am

    any one see this article on digg:

    The Virtue of Being Moderate

    @Amanda:
    have you looked into any other religions other that of your parents?

  • 130 Kenneth Oberlander // Feb 5, 2009 at 9:34 am

    @Amanda

    I can only point you to the Law and the Gospel and plead with you to search the Scriptures.

    You appear to think I haven’t done so already.

    If you cannot see your need to be saved, then you have no use for a Saviour.

    I agree fully with you on this one.

    And if Jesus Christ did not bodily rise from the grave, then you can safely toss out the whole Bible.

    I would disagree here though. The Bible remains valuable, just as Greek or Mayan or Japanese mythology remains useful. But it is still myth, and needs to be recognised as such.

  • 131 Amanda // Feb 5, 2009 at 9:38 am

    @ saneman

    have you looked into any other religions other that of your parents?

    Yes. Scary! All law, no gospel, no resurrection from the dead. It is all up to us and you always have to wonder if you have done enough. No, thank you.

  • 132 Kenneth Oberlander // Feb 5, 2009 at 9:40 am

    @Amanda

    Yes. Scary! All law, no gospel, no resurrection from the dead. It is all up to us and you always have to wonder if you have done enough.

    Are you rejecting them because they are scary?
    What would happen if you rejected them because they are scary, but they also happen to be true?

  • 133 Amanda // Feb 5, 2009 at 9:46 am

    @Kenneth Oberlander

    You appear to think I haven’t done so already.

    Not really.

    I would disagree here though. The Bible remains valuable, just as Greek or Mayan or Japanese mythology remains useful. But it is still myth, and needs to be recognised as such.

    Nah. If there is no God in heaven, then let’s eat and drink for tomorrow we die.

  • 134 Kenneth Oberlander // Feb 5, 2009 at 9:51 am

    @Amanda

    Nah. If there is no God in heaven, then let’s eat and drink for tomorrow we die.

    Again, does this scare you? Is this your main reason for rejecting other forms of belief?

  • 135 Amanda // Feb 5, 2009 at 9:54 am

    @saneman

    Are you rejecting them because they are scary?
    What would happen if you rejected them because they are scary, but they also happen to be true?

    I am rejecting them because they are false.

  • 136 saneman // Feb 5, 2009 at 9:58 am

    @Amanda:
    Have you ever thought how your religious view would differ if you where born in a different part of the world?

  • 137 saneman // Feb 5, 2009 at 10:00 am

    @Amanda:
    How do you know all the other thousands of religions are false and the religion of your parents is true?

  • 138 Kenneth Oberlander // Feb 5, 2009 at 10:01 am

    @Amanda
    I promise I’m not attacking you, I do have a point to asking these questions!

    I am rejecting them because they are false.

    How do you know this?

  • 139 Amanda // Feb 5, 2009 at 10:07 am

    @saneman

    Have you ever thought how your religious view would differ if you where born in a different part of the world?

    No, not really.

    How do you know all the other thousands of religions are false and the religion of your parents is true?

    The Resurrection.

    Sorry, guys. I have to leave right now. Back later. It has been a pleasure talking to you.

  • 140 gerhard // Feb 5, 2009 at 10:12 am

    amanda: aside from having been told that they are false…? (outside of that religions priest and that religions variation of the bible?)

    Other religions have also got gospels ?

    I find it hard to believe that you haven’t had an interest in the history of the bible. Doesn’t your religion have an account for it?

    And if Jesus Christ did not bodily rise from the grave, then you can safely toss out the whole Bible.

    hmm, interesting … so if jesus didn’t exist historically, you’d see the bible as value less? (evidence of his historic existence can be considered very thin you know. hugo and i have been debating that. (whether he existed or not) tho , hugo insists in treating the jesus differently from other things because he _wants_ jesus to have existed.

  • 141 Amanda // Feb 5, 2009 at 10:14 am

    @Kenneth Oberlander

    One quick answer.

    I promise I’m not attacking you, I do have a point to asking these questions!

    No problem. I didn’t see any attack. I am wary of moderates with their hidden agendas, though.

    Later.

  • 142 Kenneth Oberlander // Feb 5, 2009 at 10:19 am

    @Amanda, for when you come back…

    The Resurrection.

    Do you have evidence that the Resurrection occurred? Evidence outside the Biblical account, that is?

  • 143 Hugo // Feb 5, 2009 at 10:50 am

    Ben’Jammin’s comment #124 was in the moderation queue. For those that want to go back and see it, having missed it.

    Say, I’m curious, are you guys having fun? Are you putting your time to good use? ;-)

  • 144 Kenneth Oberlander // Feb 5, 2009 at 11:06 am

    Thanks Ben-Jammin.

    You learn something new every day!

  • 145 Bendul // Feb 5, 2009 at 11:51 am

    @ Gerhard (post 126)
    Thanks for the respectfull reply. Here are my thoughts:

    bendul : i honestly don’t know , I’d think lots of knowledge relies on my personal commitment for it to exist. The tides go on whether or not i want it to happen or belief.

    I’m not arguing the existence of objective realities apart from the knowing subject; I’m arguing the existence of KNOWLEDGE of objective realities apart from the knowing subject.

    I walk by taking a series of stumbles , which my body managed to figure out before i was conscious. (at least conscious like i am now, with understanding , able to make personal commitment).

    This points to an argument I would later make that not all knowledge is cognitive.

    Should i take it that you also don’t believe in absolute knowledge or true knowledge either?

    Correct. No knowledge is perfectly coherent with the referent reality in my view.

    I thought science was the attempt to cope with personal commitment. Move knowlrge out of the mind of the one into the mind of the many. Thereby minimizing the corruptive force of the individual?

    I agree! C.S. Lewis said he supports democracy not because people deserve an opinion, but because man is such a corrupt stinker, that we cannot afford to centralise power. hmmm. There’s a weird paradox here.

    May I ask your thoughts before proceding to offer mine?

  • 146 gerhard // Feb 5, 2009 at 2:16 pm

    bendul:
    I think knowlege is a tricky word. It can mean pretty much anything to anyone:)
    in the purest form , i think knowledge is always informed from subjective experience, and hence agree with you that it requires personal commitment. But having said that , i think the tools we’ve invented to deal with this , namely scientific method , logic , debate , if applied properly can generate relatively objective knowledge. why i say relative is because humans apply these tools and humans err. I could argue tho, that as a human, for the purpose of humans it can be treated as objective. Having done this for a while i think its safe to say we have _alot_ of this kind of objective knowledge.

    I think sub consciously , we know alot more about the universe than consciously, why i say that is, because natural culture has a tendency of being closer to the truth than you’d expect.
    Take native african culture for instance, the ancestor worship or the chinese giving focus to when civilization arrived in their land via foreigners apposed to ‘creation’. These are instances were i think our subconcious was informing the direction of the concious thoughts.

    I always find it interesting getting into convo’s about human sexuality. It amazes me how agressively people tackle the subject.
    Esp. women. (i feel they tend to turn this into a man vs women ego thing)
    No matter what experimentation yields, it takes very special people to be able to talk and think about it without getting too tied up in their own cultural nuances. Also the more modern a person’s culture is the less willing they are to actually apply or discuss knowledge .

    An examples would be rates of cheating men vs women. rates of illegitimate children men vs women. Inpregnation of / by someone outside of your partnership.
    At least in my culture there is this myth that men are more likely to cheat and have illegitimate children or to be adulterous . But , science seems to suggest its more of less even, with the exception of cookoos eggs where women win hands down. 4 out of 10 are by another male and 1 out of ten wont ever know :) as a male and as someone who wants to have kids some day , that is scary. (We’ve discovered reasons for why this happens, namely that women have a tendecy to cheat during their fertile period and that their ‘type’ changes significaly at the same time. one could talk about a breeder and a husband as these seem to be your biology taking lead and directing you.

    I think why women react negatively is that women have a greater awareness of how little contorl over our thoughts and actions we actually have which makes it feel more repulsive. Any emotional women having pms , can attest to it, saying or doing things wouldnt do or want to do otherwise. I know people take offence to this kind of world view , but so what? Aren’t we speculating here? Should we really restrict science away from things that make us feel unconfortable to know? I mean, if we aquired knowledge tomorrow that the difference between you and a robot isn’t nearly as big as we pretend. then is that knowledge lesser just because we’re human?
    )

    anyway , as for your cs lewis mention, I’d agree with him. I am arrogant enough to think that the little education i have already puts me into a much better position to make decisions than the average joe. And I’d be condisering me on the lower end of the potential leadership scale. I’m a big fan of a qualified vote but i also am under no delusion that leaving it up to the ‘qualified’ to qualify what qualities a voter should have would be a horrendous idea.[i'm pretty sure religious people would add 'must believe in x' ] communist corruption comes to mind. I’d say from my point of view a decentralized government is best, (we dont have that ability yet) , I am a fan of the anarchist ideal of freedom. I think the problem with democracy is the centralised social nature of it. people vote for who they like apposed to voting for what is right. I would love to see a government which works more recursively , smaller sets of rules that can be applied to greater and greater complexity without having to add ‘exceptions’ like we do at the moment.

  • 147 saneman // Feb 5, 2009 at 2:55 pm

    How does the definition of knowledge change the more you rely on subjective and faith based evidence and less on facts and testable theories?

  • 148 gerhard // Feb 5, 2009 at 4:12 pm

    saneman : sorry can u rephrase that ? i am not so sure it translates well.

  • 149 Bendul // Feb 5, 2009 at 7:56 pm

    I think sub consciously , we know alot more about the universe than consciously, why i say that is, because natural culture has a tendency of being closer to the truth than you’d expect.
    Take native african culture for instance, the ancestor worship or the chinese giving focus to when civilization arrived in their land via foreigners apposed to ‘creation’. These are instances were i think our subconcious was informing the direction of the concious thoughts…

    …I think the problem with democracy is the centralised social nature of it. people vote for who they like apposed to voting for what is right. I would love to see a government which works more recursively , smaller sets of rules that can be applied to greater and greater complexity without having to add ‘exceptions’ like we do at the moment.

    Hi, Thanks Gerhard for the toughts; but I must admit I struggle to follow you. Do you have some concrete examples of your ideal political systems? Is it something you envision for the future?

    Anyways. Here is a helpfull description by Hugo that adds some more breadth to the ideas I shared about knowledge (also check out his Meh/Lah posts…):

    Knowledge: that which you “know to be true”, which is, really a
    “belief”. Scientific knowledge has a very good and rigorous
    epistemology behind it, which is how it continually “improves” in its
    attempts to get as close to “reality” (lah) as it can. That doesn’t
    change the fact that people “knew”, as personal knowledge, that the
    sun rotates about a still standing earth many centuries ago…

    …Post-modernism as a relational philosophy then, accepts the fact that
    we will never all have the same knowledge, that perfect knowledge is
    unattainable. Especially when it comes to non-scientific questions.
    The power of modernism *was* demonstrated in the second world war, and
    it shocked philosophers and literary critics to the core. It birthed:
    post-modernism. A relational strategy. An acceptance of diverse
    “truths” even as we continue striving towards improving our scientific
    knowledge.

    Im not sure if I’d call this strategy “post-modernism”, as Modernism has many guises. Rather post-positivism as it adresses that specific niche in modern thought: The claim to have already attained “FINAL TRUTH”.

    To interject here: Once again I want to resist the urge of modernity to say “my truth is further along than yours.” I reject this one-dimensional hierarchical model of truth/knowledge where there is only a single (implied) way of knowing which develops towards the same fictional goal: objectivity. I would ask “whose idea of objectivity are we refrring to here?”. Picture a “ladder of knowledge”. I prefer a multi-dimensional idea of developing different aspects of knowledge, that all start from the same point: the subject. Maybe more like a “sphere of knowledge” with the subject at it’s center. Wouldn’t want to push this analogy too far.

    I am however all for inter-subjective communities. Once again. why I like this blog.

  • 150 Thomas // Feb 6, 2009 at 7:21 am

    Hi Hugo,

    Just for the record. Have you blocked me?

  • 151 Thomas // Feb 6, 2009 at 7:26 am

    Ok! Everything seems to be just fine. However, last week I tried several times to post a comment but to no avail. It seems that I am allowed to continue.

  • 152 Amanda // Feb 6, 2009 at 8:21 am

    @Kenneth Oberlander

    Do you have evidence that the Resurrection occurred? Evidence outside the Biblical account, that is?

    No. And no other sign will be given: But he answered them, “An evil and adulterous generation seeks for a sign, but no sign will be given to it except the sign of the prophet Jonah. For just as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of the great fish, so will the Son of Man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth. Mat 12:39-40

    If Jesus Christ did not fulfil this prophesy He would have been an impostor and His followers would not have been prepared to die for something they knew to be a lie. They knew the critical importance of the Resurrection.

    Paul wrote: And if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain and your faith is in vain. We are even found to be misrepresenting God, because we testified about God that he raised Christ, whom he did not raise if it is true that the dead are not raised. For if the dead are not raised, not even Christ has been raised. And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins. 1Co 15:14-17

    The Creator of heaven and earth chose to reveal His Law and Gospel through Scripture. He declared what He would do, did it, it is done and it is written. You will not be exempt on the day of judgement because God neglected to provide you with outside evidence.

  • 153 Hugo // Feb 6, 2009 at 10:45 am

    Thomas, akismet, the automatic spam filter, thought your comment was spam. I found you tried twice to post one particular comment (minor differences between them). Akismet keeps comments it thinks are spam for two weeks. That was 4155 spam comments and two by you. Fun digging yours out. ;-)

    I have *not* restored them (except for a moment) because it messes up the comment numbering. What I can do, is restore one (I assume you don’t want both) and change its timestamp so that it appears at the bottom of the thread. Want me to do that? (This evening, when I’m done with work.)

  • 154 Amanda // Feb 6, 2009 at 11:09 am

    @gerhard

    Other religions have also got gospels ?

    No.

    I find it hard to believe that you haven’t had an interest in the history of the bible. Doesn’t your religion have an account for it?

    I have read about the history of the Bible.

    hmm, interesting … so if Jesus didn’t exist historically, you’d see the bible as value less? (evidence of his historic existence can be considered very thin you know.

    I take it that you believe Jesus Christ did not exist. Of what value is the Bible to you then?

    hugo and i have been debating that. (whether he existed or not) tho , hugo insists in treating the Jesus differently from other things

    I think it is you who are dismissing the historical accounts of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John as ‘thin’ evidence.

    because he _wants_ Jesus to have existed.

    Why? If Jesus Christ’s resurrection were not a historical event, then faith in Him as a Saviour would be useless. It is hard for me to try and think why anyone would choose to follow Jesus Christ if He were only a fictional character who went around boasting about himself and then died. I don’t get it?

  • 155 Bendul // Feb 6, 2009 at 12:23 pm

    Author: Thomas
    Comment:
    Bendul

    If you can find a good clear biblical example of where, for instance, Paul of tarsus, did this (outside of relationship! please don’t refer to his letter of correction to the Corinthians!); then I will recant.

    Paul of Tarsus

    Gal 1:8,9 But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed. As we said before, so say I now again, If any man preach any other gospel unto you than that ye have received, let him be accursed.

    Would you dare to call Paul of Tarsus who received the Gospel directly from Christ arrogant?

  • 156 gerhard // Feb 6, 2009 at 12:24 pm

    hugo , please moderate my comment to 149. thanks.

  • 157 Hugo // Feb 6, 2009 at 12:35 pm

    I don’t understand.

    Specific and concise instructions if you want me to do something while at work, please.

  • 158 gerhard // Feb 6, 2009 at 1:05 pm

    @amanda : for instance the injil would be a gospel , islamics believe that your gospels got corrupt over time and that they have the last ‘pure’ one, the injil :)
    I’ve come across several religious works of this nature.

    I have read about the history of the Bible.

    pre king james? (are the people who amalgamated the bible supposed to be inspired by god in their reductionism?)

    I take it that you believe Jesus Christ did not exist. Of what value is the Bible to you then?

    Well, i believe that the evidence suggests he was a myth.
    The same value i find in other religious works , myth or science. It teaches helps understand time and your place.

    I think it is you who are dismissing the historical accounts of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John as ‘thin’ evidence.

    well, the documents make the assertion , so the only thing you can do is check those assertions. The assertion itself is not proof. The assertions made just don’t pan out when checked. None of the assertions check out so the arguments made by theologians tend to by pseudo ones.

    Why? If Jesus Christ’s resurrection were not a historical event, then faith in Him as a Saviour would be useless. It is hard for me to try and think why anyone would choose to follow Jesus Christ if He were only a fictional character who went around boasting about himself and then died. I don’t get it?

    While i agree that the non-historicity of jesus would lessen the impact of this kind of ‘spiritual’ work i wouldn’t think it would make it meaningless. The bible’s intent (i am making an assumption here) is probably to give people some form of guidance. (esp in a lesser civilized world )

  • 159 Kenneth Oberlander // Feb 6, 2009 at 1:12 pm

    @Amanda

    If Jesus Christ did not fulfil this prophesy He would have been an impostor and His followers would not have been prepared to die for something they knew to be a lie. They knew the critical importance of the Resurrection.

    Indeed. This suggests at least one other reason why this prophecy was fulfilled. There are many others.

    It appears that you take the Bible literally. Do you accept every word of the Bible as certainty? As definitely having happened?

    If so, are you aware of the textual history of the Bible; how it has been assembled, edited, redacted, mistranslated and added to over the millenia?

    The Creator of heaven and earth chose to reveal His Law and Gospel through Scripture.

    Which version? Which translation? At what point in time? Does this include the Apocrypha?

    He declared what He would do, did it, it is done and it is written. You will not be exempt on the day of judgement because God neglected to provide you with outside evidence.

    In which case, I leave it up to you to judge the virtue of the god you worship when the vast majority of his children burn in hell forever whilst you bask in his loving, forgiving light.

    A god that is by definition love and forgiveness will not punish for eternity. The two ideas are utterly antithetical.

    I think it is you who are dismissing the historical accounts of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John as ‘thin’ evidence.

    There are good reasons why gerhard rejects these.

    If Jesus Christ’s resurrection were not a historical event, then faith in Him as a Saviour would be useless.

    Absolutely correct.

    It is hard for me to try and think why anyone would choose to follow Jesus Christ if He were only a fictional character who went around boasting about himself and then died. I don’t get it?

    This is the point, crux, zenith and apex of the matter. Try the following:

    It is hard for me to try and think why anyone would choose to follow Allah if He were only a fictional character who went around boasting about himself and then died. I don’t get it?

    It is hard for me to try and think why anyone would choose to follow Thor if He were only a fictional character who went around boasting about himself and then died. I don’t get it?

    It is hard for me to try and think why anyone would choose to follow Shiva if He were only a fictional character who went around boasting about himself and then died. I don’t get it?

    There are people around the world who believe absolutely, as confidently as you, that their religions are correct. Each is convinced, as you are, that they are the followers of the one true religion. Each cites evidence from their holy scriptures, as you have done, that shows that their religion is the true one. They have the same degree of certainty, with as much supporting evidence, as you do.

    These religions are mutually contradictory. At the very most only one of these religions can be correct. How can you possibly be certain that one of the other religions isn’t true?Even worse, what happens if one of them is true, and you have been in the wrong religion from the start? Do you think that the god(s) of that religion will be particularly forgiving of your constant denial of his/her/their existence?

  • 160 Bendul // Feb 6, 2009 at 1:25 pm

    that last one was Thomas’ comment that git spam filtered.

    I recall mentioning to ask you not to use an example of where a personal adress is not involved. The “anti-semitic” context of that letter compromises your point. Paul is arguing against the works-based (circumcision etc.) faith of the jews creeping into the church and causing bondage instead of liberty. Paul would be more than willing to celebrate good aspects of the jewish culture for their contribution to this I am sure. In another place I see paul taking an eventual stance of indifference towards jews who “pervert God’s message”.

    5When Silas and Timothy came from Macedonia, Paul devoted himself exclusively to preaching, testifying to the Jews that Jesus was the Christ.[a] 6But when the Jews opposed Paul and became abusive, he shook out his clothes in protest and said to them, “Your blood be on your own heads! I am clear of my responsibility. From now on I will go to the Gentiles.”

    I have an objection to people making it their purpose and responsibility to point out heresy in the church, assuming their gospel to be the right and perfect one. I prefer respectably scrutinising each others views in light of wholistic scriptural exposition, learning from each other and living out the gospel: Love for God, and love for others, and repentance of self-seeking, destructive ways. This is how I see Jesus message embodied in His teaching and His choices. I can’t accept the idea that everyone who doesn’t agree with one correct party’s take on the gospel is perfectly evil, wishing to lead others astray. If they are simply misguided, they deserve at least the courtesy that Christ offered for instance the Samaritan woman. The criterion is their humility. God gives grace to the humble. And besides if Paul calls them “cursed” (the perverters of the gospel) that gives the responsibility to God to sort them out. Not Paul.

    Maybe we could continue this discussion over coffee? Are you close to stellenbosch?

    Gerhard & Saneman (could you reserve judgement and allow us to have our “fairytale analysis”?)

  • 161 Bendul // Feb 6, 2009 at 1:41 pm

    @Kenneth

    Good questions! would love to research them a bit better for discussion over some more snob-coffee!

    A god that is by definition love and forgiveness will not punish for eternity. The two ideas are utterly antithetical.

    That depends on your concept of love and forgiveness. Firstly the Bible only says “God is Love”. Forgiveness is one of the many effects thereof. “Relational love” is willing to forgive whether the forgiveness is rejected or not.

    You would ask why would a loving God create a hell if there was the possiblity of people rejecting Him and going there?

    I would argue that if there was not the possibility of rejection there would not be the possibility of relationship.

    You would argue thats pretty unfair. I would argue thats justice. People choose their hell in my opinion. the afterlife hell thing I am still agnostic about. All I know is God offers redemption and forgiveness righth now. I.e. liberty from OUR OWN guilt and shame. You would add “created by the same culture that invented the antidote”

    I would say fair enough. But the idea of Christianity is not to establish a culture, but to liberate people from cultural vice while still celebrating cultural virtues.

    I am encouraged that there are theologians who take the questions you pose seriously. These are my thoughts. Encapsulated Christianity is suffocating.

  • 162 Bendul // Feb 6, 2009 at 1:42 pm

    Hugo:
    comment 157: awaiting moderation?
    huh?

  • 163 Kenneth Oberlander // Feb 6, 2009 at 2:01 pm

    @Bendul

    I would argue that if there was not the possibility of rejection there would not be the possibility of relationship.

    To which I would reply: how is this a challenge to an omnipotent god? He can do anything. Why can’t he make ours a reality in which the above doesn’t hold?

  • 164 Amanda // Feb 6, 2009 at 2:12 pm

    @gerhard

    for instance the injil would be a gospel , islamics believe that your gospels got corrupt over time and that they have the last ‘pure’ one, the injil:) I’ve come across several religious works of this nature.

    I have checked Wikipedia re injil. I know that they deny that Jesus Christ is the Son of God. They also deny his crucifixion. But what is their gospel? What is their good news?

    The salvation through Jesus Christ is a free gift, received through faith. Sinful man cannot earn his way into heaven by doing good deeds. Here is what the Bible says: But now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the law, although the Law and the Prophets bear witness to it– the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe. For there is no distinction: for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith. This was to show God’s righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins. It was to show his righteousness at the present time, so that he might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus. Rom 3:21-26

    pre king james? (are the people who amalgamated the bible supposed to be inspired by god in their reductionism?)

    They had the ability to discern. Once you know the real thing, it is not that hard to see that the following is off and that it does not belong in Scripture:

    Simon Peter said to them: “Let Mary (Magdalene) go out from among us, because women are not worthy of the Life.”

    Jesus said: “See I shall lead her, so that I will make her male, that she too may become a living spirit, resembling you males. For every woman who makes herself male will enter the Kingdom of Heaven.”

    The same value i find in other religious works , myth or science. It teaches helps understand time and your place.

    An example would be really helpful?

    The assertions made just don’t pan out when checked.

    I am just curious here. How did you check it?

    While i agree that the non-historicity of Jesus would lessen the impact of this kind of ‘spiritual’ work i wouldn’t think it would make it meaningless. The bible’s intent (i am making an assumption here) is probably to give people some form of guidance. (esp in a lesser civilized world )

    No-no. The Bible is the inerrant Word of God that records how God redeemed man to Himself through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ on the cross. It is either that or it is nothing. It is not something that you can use to knock people into good little citizens so that you can live out your life in peace. Won’t work.

  • 165 gerhard // Feb 6, 2009 at 2:15 pm

    hugo , i wrote a long reply to bendul yesterday . it’s awaiting moderation.. sorry to be a bother at work :P -g

  • 166 Hugo // Feb 6, 2009 at 2:36 pm

    Sorry, there’s no post attributed to “gerhard” in the moderation queue. There’s no comments there that “shouldn’t be there”. There’s also only one reference to “gerhard” in the thousands of akismet-filtered messages, and it’s spam (a tonne of links).

    Bendul, I spotted your pasting of Thomas’ comment in the akismet queue when I was looking for gerhard’s. I unspammed it, then saw you pasted again without the blockquote, and unapproved the unquoted one, so that there isn’t duplicates. Maybe that one is listed as “in moderation queue”… does that notice/warning remain for you, still? If you reload?

  • 167 gerhard // Feb 6, 2009 at 3:01 pm

    amanda: oh cool thanks for point out the wiki entry on that :P
    “The Injil (Arabic إنجيل (or Injeel) is one of the five Islamic Holy Books the Qur’an records as revealed by God, the others being the Suhuf Ibrahim, Zabur, Tawrat and Qur’an. The word Injil is derived from Greek word Ευαγγέλιον (evangelium).”

    They had the ability to discern. Once you know the real thing, it is not that hard to see that the following is off and that it does not belong in Scripture:

    yes, one would think so. However , there were many attempts at the same thing. Hence the variations in bible version, which can be as extreem as to contradict each other. So really, which ever bible you learn from is just a matter of birth.

    An example would be really helpful?

    well, i enjoyed reading some of the tipitaka . I didn’t really enjoy the tibbetan book of the dead but i think the book is a little too focused. I also think books by modern authors like d. adams and c. kendral( may be misspelling his name) helpful but i suspect that is because they tend speak my language. As for the science books, there would be too many :) does this answer help? Are you looking for examples or recommendations here?

    -The assertions made just don’t pan out when checked.

    I am just curious here. How did you check it?
    I don’t understand the question. I researched the topic , i looked for what evidence bible scholars and historians came up with. if you want i can go into greater detail here but thta will require much typing / inverstment. And i would insist that you don’t just read my reply but actually check the statements made. As i don’t want my or your time wasted: ) In the mean time , i can recommend reading the wiki entries for the ‘historicity of jesus’ and ‘jesus-myth’.

    It is not something that you can use to knock people into good little citizens so that you can live out your life in peace. Won’t work.

    yeah, it obviously hasn’t :) christain society is as messed up as any other.
    But on a more serious note, as someone who’s still in touch with his bloodline’s historical situation , i think , Christianity had a fairly good run at reducing the number of variety in moral thought western society. A pagan scoeity doesn’t have one overarching theme or moral conviction so it must have been quite confusing to experiance. Traveling just a mile could mean suddenly you would be hanged for doing something your people considered moral but others didnt.

  • 168 gerhard // Feb 6, 2009 at 3:29 pm

    hugo : every single comment now is ‘awaiting moderation’ unless it’s a oneliner. u wanna tweak that to cut back on your moderation?

  • 169 gerhard // Feb 6, 2009 at 3:31 pm

    hugo : well that’s crap. does that mean i lost my comment? i remember getting anoyed about it being ‘awaiting moderation’ in the first place, didnt have links but it may have been a bit too long. please i reaaaaallly dont want to have to type that again , am very very much enjoying bendul’s thoughts :)

  • 170 Hugo // Feb 6, 2009 at 4:54 pm

    If it isn’t #167, I really think there’s nothing I can do. That’s the only moderation request I received today. And again, a search for “gerhard” in the akismet spam also turned up nothing. :-/ If I were a WordPress developer, I’d maybe add debug info or dig through logs, but that’s so far outside my field of expertise, I can only suggest editing and saving comments in a text editor and copy/pasting them over when you’re done. (I did that for my previous monster…)

  • 171 Amanda // Feb 6, 2009 at 6:59 pm

    @ Kenneth Oberlander

    May I ask if you are an atheist or do you have a religion?

    Do you believe the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, the Father of the Lord Jesus Christ is the one true God, but you hate Him?

    Do you believe a god to your liking would be love, but not holy nor righteous?

  • 172 Amanda // Feb 6, 2009 at 8:40 pm

    @gerhard

    The word Injil is derived from Greek word Ευαγγέλιον (evangelium).”

    Yes? So what is their gospel? Here is another piece of Good News from the Bible: “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. Joh 3:16-17

    Are you looking for examples or recommendations here?

    How has the Bible helped you? I am trying to understand how you will be able to use the Bible as mere literature. Won’t you have to do some heavy editing to remove God first? For instance you could let the first six verses of Proverbs flow over you: The proverbs of Solomon, son of David, king of Israel: To know wisdom and instruction, to understand words of insight, to receive instruction in wise dealing, in righteousness, justice, and equity; to give prudence to the simple, knowledge and discretion to the youth– Let the wise hear and increase in learning, and the one who understands obtain guidance, to understand a proverb and a saying, the words of the wise and their riddles. Pro 1:1-6

    But what do you do with the following verse? The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge; fools despise wisdom and instruction.
    Pro 1:7

    i can recommend reading the wiki entries for the ‘historicity of Jesus’ and ‘Jesus-myth’.

    Still reading. I can now see where you are coming from, thank you.

    yeah, it obviously hasn’t :) Christian society is as messed up as any other.

    You don’t say. And we have a live example right here in Bendul’s rebuking of Thomas using scripture.

    I have an objection to people making it their purpose and responsibility to point out heresy in the church, assuming their gospel to be the right and perfect one…

    If they are simply misguided, they deserve at least the courtesy that Christ offered for instance the Samaritan woman. The criterion is their humility. God gives grace to the humble. And besides if Paul calls them “cursed” (the perverters of the gospel) that gives the responsibility to God to sort them out. Not Paul.

    Now how should a fundamentalist respond to that rebuke?

  • 173 Thomas // Feb 6, 2009 at 9:15 pm

    Kenneth Oberlander @ #105

    Epicurus may have been a very distinguished Greek philosopher but he had very little gray matter in the uppermost part of his body. I’m not too sure whether you know, but the best way to test someone’s IQ is to ask them whether they know what the difference is between a spider and a spider’s web. Epicurus didn’t seem to know. Do you, Kenneth?

    I suppose you too would regularly sweep the four corners of a room and leap with ecstatic joy thinking you have permanently eliminated the poisonous danger lurking in your home. The problem with evil is not the evil itself. Had the evil deed alone been the menacing danger for all mankind, God would have eliminated it in the twinkling of the eye without having to judge and sentence man. No! something had to be done with the perpetrators of evil (you and I and every other human being) for man’s heart was and is still the instigator of evil. It is therefore not so much the evil itself but the factory of evil that needs to be dealt with (Jeremiah 17:3). Had Epicurus known this he would probably never have accused God of malevolence and impotence in such a vindictive, arrogant and high-minded way.

    It was in regard to the real problem of evil (the heart of man), that the Gospel of God took shape. It began before the foundation of the earth when the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit presciently foreknew that mankind would fall into sin and decided to deal with the perpetrators of evil in a way that would set man free from evil and also the consequences thereof. Smoking, for instance, may not be regarded as evil by the majority but they would hardly disagree that cancer, the consequence of smoking, is evil. Similarly a woman’s freedom of choice to have an abortion may not be regarded as evil by the majority but the consequences thereof – the death of a baby and in many cases the death of the mother – is indeed evil. In fact, it is maliciously evil to accuse God of not being omnipotent and being malevolent when He is supposedly unwilling to prevent the evil man inflicts on himself and his fellowman while they simultaneously accuse Him of meddling in their affairs and human rights when He tries to stop them on their insane course of self destruction. No matter what God does, He will always be blamed for the pain, suffering and death mankind inflicts on himself. That, in my opinion is pure cowardice. Let’s face it, God is quite capable and willing to wipe evil from the face of the earth but the majority refuse to acknowledge His way of dealing with the problem of evil WITHOUT eradicating the perpetrators of evil (you and I and the rest of mankind). Remember the spider and the spiderweb?

    Indeed God is not willing that anyone should perish. He is patiently allowing mankind to play out and fill to the very brim the cup of their evil and propensity to do evil before He will say “enough is enough.” There is only one way to escape the consequences of evil and that is the way God provided for mankind – Jesus Christ. You can’t expect God to prevent evil without addressing the real problem of evil – i.e. the perpetrator of evil. Do you want Him to eradicate evil so that fallen man may perpetuate ad infinitum his evil so that God might eradicate it again and again and again or prevent it again and again and again? Even you would grow weary of such a foolish thing.

    Then why call Him God?

    The overriding reason why we all need to call Him God and additionally to fall on our faces in complete awe and adoration, is because He was the only One who could deal with evil per se and the perpetrators of evil without compromising His love, righteousness and justice. That is precisely why Paul wrote these awe-inspiring words in 1 Cor 1: 18-19

    For the message of the cross is sheer absurdity and folly to those who are perishing and on their way to perdition, but to us who are being saved it is the [manifestation of] the power of God. For it is written, I will baffle and render useless and destroy the learning of the learned and the philosophy of the philosophers (such as Epicurus) and the cleverness of the clever and the discernment of the discerning; I will frustrate and nullify [them] and bring [them] to nothing.

  • 174 Thomas // Feb 6, 2009 at 10:01 pm

    Bendul @ #51

    However, I kind of got the idea that you guys are kind of polar opposites of the gospel, maybe? Maybe the “Heaven to earth” gospel and the “people to Heaven” gospel aren’t mutually exclusive? are they?

    The “heaven to earth Gospel” and the “people to heaven Gospel” is one and the same Gospel. There are no contradictions or discrepancies in and between either one of them that may prove they are at odds with each other.

    God intended from the very outset to set up a Theocratic Kingdom in which His creatures would lovingly, obediently, joyously and righteously submit themselves to His supreme sovereignty, will and authority. If we were to sum up the Kingdom of God in a few words, those words would be “God’s Kingdom is there where everyone does the will of God perfectly for all eternity.” However, because God IS LOVE (the very essence of love) He will never violate His creatures’ free-will or coerce them into an acceptance of His will and His Kingdom. Enforcement and coercion inevitably lead to enmity. Imagine anyone marrying a woman whom he forced to tie the knot with him and hoodwinked her to move into his pad with him. Unthinkable? Inconceivable? . . . and if so why would we expect a holy God to do less than sinful man?

    Now that we’ve established that God forces no one to accept His requirements to enter into His Kingdom, it becomes so much easier to understand why He had to place Adam and Eve under a time of probation. The token of their time of probation was the tree of knowledge of good and evil and His command not to eat thereof. True love for God and your fellowman flows form a heart that is willing to do the will of God. Hence Jesus’ little known and lesser acknowledged command in the Gospel according to John: “I If a man love me, he will keep my words: and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him.”

    God’s Kingdom can only come to the earth when people willingly and contritely enter the present spiritual form of His Kingdom. I say “contritely” because contrition (humble obedience to God’s command to repent unto salvation) is the only prerequisite to enter through the strait gate and to travel the narrow way.

    God is presently gathering unto Himself and His Kingdom (which is presently spiritual in nature) subjects who are willing to enter His Kingdom through the only Door He provided – Jesus Christ. The only prerequisite to enter is repentance and faith unto salvation. Any other method to usher in the Kingdom of God is false and extremely dangerous because they are playing into the hands of the Antichrist who is going to inaugurate a false kingdom or Utopia of peace.

  • 175 Thomas // Feb 7, 2009 at 6:59 am

    Please note I puposefully used “is” instead of “are” in my post post #176 to emphasize the fact that their IS only one Gospel, whether you like to call it a “heaven to earth Gospel” or a “people to heaven Gospel.” It always remains the same Gospel. I was just hoping you picked that up, Bendul.

  • 176 Hugo // Feb 7, 2009 at 11:33 am

    Aren’t there four gospels in the New Testament…? ;-)

  • 177 Bendul // Feb 7, 2009 at 1:41 pm

    brilliant Hugo.

    I marvel the mystery of God’s wisdom (unlike man’s transitory seasonal and cyclic wisdom according to Corinthians) to be able to communicate His divine truth, consistently, through many different authors in different contexts, with different angles on His absolute truth. Obviously the atheist crew (big up ma niggaz) is going to look at the “contradictions” (I call them paradoxes) of scripture and be baffled that people can consider it to be coherent. I look at the texts around them and think “how can the Bible’s basic message be so startlingly consistent when the texts around it fall apart with irreconcilable internal contradictions?”

    Obviously I am inviting debate by such a statement. I am willing to defend my position; but be carefull to dismiss me as ignorant and someone who practises “blind faith” or relativistically worshipping a God of my own convenience. I find it extremely hurtfull when people presumptiously attack my character.

    It is always a shock to find myself purpetrating these exact same hurtfull & uninformed judgements.

    yet God somehow loves me: A hypocrite. Weird…

  • 178 Bendul // Feb 7, 2009 at 4:12 pm

    [Ed: *corrections folded in to the post above*]

  • 179 Bendul // Feb 7, 2009 at 4:22 pm

    [Ed: *corrections folded in to the post above*]

  • 180 Amanda // Feb 7, 2009 at 4:31 pm

    @Hugo

    Aren’t there four gospels in the New Testament…?

    That is an important point. Often moderates and fundamentalists talk past each other, using the same terms, but defining it differently. Your emergent friend, Dominee Cobus, used the first verse in Mark to explain that the word ‘Gospel’ refers to all that was written about the life of Jesus Christ. I would agree that there are indeed four Gospels, meaning the books Matthew, Luke, Mark and John.

    However, fundamentalist most often use the word Gospel to refer to the central Christian doctrine that Jesus Christ died on the cross for our sins and we receive the free gift of salvation by repenting of our sins and having faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. Dominee Cobus, on the other hand, declares that the stories about Jesus Christ are all about relationships and people and the heart of the Gospel is …love. He agrees that the emergent church is about establishing the kingdom on earth by living in the way of Jesus: That is, love God and love your neighbour. Exposing the false teaching, at the very university where he studied, then becomes an ‘unloving’ thing to do. According to him these false teachers should have been approached the same way as you should approach a brother that sinned against you.

    This ‘moderate’ preacher introduced an alternative youth service at his church. His friend at Khanya blog attended the service: “I talked to Cobus afterwards, and he said one of the aims of the service was to try to introduce the youth in a more contemplative spirituality.

    This is not Christianity. This is what you get when moderates throw out the very fundamentals of the faith as listed by Thomas #49. Moderates and fundamentalists are not two points on the same spectrum. I suggest the terms ‘pagan’ and ‘Christian’ should be used by those labeled by the moderates as ‘fundamentalists’. Pagans are free to call themselves what they like. The Gospel-less emergents can call themselves christ followers if they like. I like to call them pagans.

    Hugo, you objected to me calling you a Christian #87. I take that back. It was a terrible lie.

  • 181 Amanda // Feb 7, 2009 at 4:38 pm

    @Bendul

    I look at the texts around them and think “how can the Bible’s basic message be so startlingly consistent when the texts around it fall apart with irreconcilable internal contradictions?”

    May I ask what your take is on what the Bible’s basic message is?

  • 182 Bendul // Feb 7, 2009 at 5:06 pm

    what can I tell you that you will not try to use against me?

    Amanda, I am truly sorry that I have failed to answer your questions. All that I have left is dissilusioned sarcasm. I would rather shut up.

  • 183 Amanda // Feb 7, 2009 at 5:26 pm

    @Bendul

    what can I tell you that you will not try to use against me?

    One suggestion, perhaps? : And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of Man be lifted up, that whoever believes in him may have eternal life. “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God. And this is the judgment: the light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light because their works were evil. Joh 3:14-19

  • 184 Bendul // Feb 7, 2009 at 5:36 pm

    thankyou Amanda. I think I forgot that one!

  • 185 Bendul // Feb 7, 2009 at 5:37 pm

    Sorry. Couldn’t keep that one in…

  • 186 Thomas // Feb 7, 2009 at 6:06 pm

    Bendul @ #186

    Being forgetful can be a very costly thing. Have you forgotten this one as well.

    Therefore remember from where you have fallen, and repent and do the deeds you did at first; or else I am coming to you and will remove your lampstand out of its place—unless you repent. (Rev2:5)

  • 187 Bendul // Feb 7, 2009 at 6:20 pm

    bless you Thomas.

  • 188 Thomas // Feb 7, 2009 at 6:43 pm

    Hugo @ #178

    Aren’t there four gospels in the New Testament…?

    Indeed, God’s Spirit inspired His followers to write “four Gospels” so that you may have no excuse on the day of judgment, blaming God that you didn’t know the Truth. You will not be able to dodge His righteous judgments by claiming that you never read these word in Matthew, Mark, Luke and John (“the four Gospels as you so brilliantly and succinctly put it).

    Matthew 4:17 From that time Jesus began to preach, and to say, Repent: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.

    Mark 1:14-15 Now after that John was put in prison, Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of the kingdom of God, And saying, The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand: repent ye, and believe the gospel. (Please note, Mr. brilliant, with respect to Mr. Bendul’s brilliant description of your brilliant observation. Jesus used the singular “Gospel” and not the plural “Gospels” which proves that His grammar was far better than yours).

    Luke 13: 2-5 Suppose ye that these Galilaeans were sinners above all the Galilaeans, because they suffered such things? I tell you, Nay: but, except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish. Or those eighteen, upon whom the tower in Siloam fell, and slew them, think ye that they were sinners above all men that dwelt in Jerusalem? I tell you, Nay: but, except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish.

    John 3:7 Marvel not that I said unto thee, Ye must be born again.

    You have “four Gospels” to choose from with regard to the central message if the Bible. Which one is it going to be, Hugo and Bendul?

  • 189 Thomas // Feb 7, 2009 at 9:15 pm

    Bendul @ #179

    It is always a shock to find myself purpetrating these exact same hurtfull & uninformed judgements.

    yet God somehow loves me: A hypocrite. Weird…

    It is always good to know that God loves you. The good news is that He loves the entire human race but the bad news is that the majority whom He loves so dearly don’t love Him and will enter a Christ-less eternity. Do you love Him, Bendul?

  • 190 Bendul // Feb 7, 2009 at 9:51 pm

    To Thomas and Amanda.

    I want to bless you both sincerely for your enthusiasm for scripture; and the fact that you take the Word so seriously. May God test that faith and commitment, and find it gentle like a dove, yet cunning like a serpent on the day that you have to give account of your lives to Him.

    If you feel the tone of this comment is somewhat “farewellish” that would be because I am seeing it necessary to cut my interchanges with you, for reason I do not care to make known now or ever. I am convinced God knows my heart & I hide nothing from Him.

    The Lord bless you & keep you. The Lord make His face shine upon you. the LORD turn his face toward you and give you peace.

    May you guys grow and become Christlike everyday; and may people fall more in Love with Christ as the encounter you.

    Oor en uit.
    Bendul (die Pagan)

  • 191 Hugo // Feb 7, 2009 at 10:25 pm

    I’ve decided to not waste nearly as much time responding to arguments and debates. (Edit after completing this comment: I’ve already broken that decision by how long this reply got, but it is still my goal.) It should be clear I don’t like either (arguments and debates), they’re destructive, they’re about “winning”. Winning is not the way. (I mean, winning is not my way.) Winning is the way of the world, the way of natural selection and survival of the fittest, winning leads to suffering. I believe in a third way. (I.e., not losing either.) Those interested in a discussion, in a dialogue, those are the people I want to interact with.

    As I’ve mentioned, to avoid the bullies / debaters / arguers dominating each and every discussion, I’ll need a technical solution. So more time towards that as well.

    Anything I don’t respond to here, I explicitly choose not to respond to.

    Now I’m starting reading from #85, and touching only on broad topics or “important things” (as per my subjective judgement – things I consider important).

    Discussions of argument-from-morality, that’ll go into my long-pending post on CS Lewis’ Mere Christianity.

    gerhard mentioned:

    no , i am saying you’re generally very emotional when it comes to criticism of your ideas or when things don’t go the way they are planned. thomas was just a good example of your getting , emotional.

    Passionate, not emotional. That discussion was going just like I wanted to, I was really enjoying myself. And I was cool, calm and collected, leveled my eyes, and spoke my mind. I bore true witness to the “truths” I have upon my heart. Though some would argue I have false truths on my heart, just like I argue their truths are false.

    I know already , i just want him to say it. Implying everyone goes to hell and saying it flat out have very different psychological reprocussions .. hearing yourself say something “silly” to people who you “know” clearly think otherwise can make you think about what you’re saying.

    Pretty cool thinking, even if I don’t share that much optimism. ;-)

    I’m sorry gerhard is unable to realise the difference between the colour of the sky and eternal punishment and suffering. Or the difference in the belief between those. And that’s all I have to say about that. Let’s see if I can find any kind of apology by either saneman or gerhard here. (I’m expecting more from saneman. I’ve got higher standards for him.)

    nuances… nuances…
    agreed , myths are not bad and worthless.. (agreement? my god , how did that happen? )

    Thanks for that gerhard, much appreciated. And yes: nuances! That’s what this blog is all about.

    if you end up with people with their fingers in their ears, you lose. Know what I mean?

    I’d say you only loose if the person stabs himself in the eardrum

    Aka “no, I don’t understand what you mean”. I meant to define win and loose in the context of this blog’s purpose.

    the big debate on that other thread was *purely* about whether saneman and/or gerhard would peacefully permit me to believe that there was a historical Jesus or not. That’s it.

    If there is reason to do then yes.

    Huh? That does not follow. There’s no if. That’s what the debate was about for me, i.e. one of the big two reasons for its existence. There’s of course another reason: whatever reason saneman/gerhard had for not peacefully permitting me to believe there was a historical Jesus. That’s it.

    /me is responding too much. Reducing my trigger threshold.

    Amanda, Thomas hasn’t been ditched no. But I guess you noticed. ;-)

    gerhard, I like your approach to Amanda, first two paragraphs in #97. Can you approach me in similar fashion? Can we all approach everyone in that fashion? (Or do you do that already?) I wish saneman could do it.

    What bothers me: fundamentalists are turned into the authorities on what the Bible says and doesn’t say. Why? What about the scholars, that have studied the Bible for years? The theologians that have done the same, and make it their lives to teach from it? Fundies have one way of interpreting the Bible, a particular set of lenses through which they read it. They read it in a way that makes it adhere to this predefined idea. (This idea develops independently of the non-changing scripture.) Now others that do Biblical exegesis to learn from the context, or the Jewish tradition who I feel should technically have a lot of authority to talk about what the Hebrew Bible says (what we consider the Old Testament), that recognise multiple ways of interpreting the same pieces of scripture and teach it like that, they are considered inconsistent? And are not considered “perfectly reasonable”? Only those conforming to the “evangelical fundie” stereotype are considered to be “perfectly reasonable” in the way they see things? How much sense does that make… how fair is that…?

    agreed, arrogance of the moderates is the fact that they and only _they_ know what isn’t the true ‘perfect’ word of their god.

    Bullshit, gerhard.

    It would be great to hear the authoritative word of god.

    saneman, do you take issue with how gerhard is encouraging fundamentalism in his comments here? Just curious… because from *my* perspective, you seem to have double standards, though my understanding for what that is, is because you do not understand my position, while you do understand gerhard’s. (Hence, understandable double standards, though I’d still not consider them justifiable.)

    LOTR: there’s some interesting connections I made when my mind was at its “most creative”. I’ve wondered if I should try to sketch some of those out… ;-) Probably never will, don’t have the time. Silly realism.

    Hmmm, interesting: gerhard’s response #104 to “the problem of evil” #103 seems to indicate gerhard would be opting for the “it is moral because it is commanded by God” angle. Does Kenneth respond with the follow-up?

    saneman’s #105 is probably as close to an apology as I’ll ever get from him, eh.

    I understand I am attacking your core beliefs of your life and that must be annoying you ad nauseum

    No, not quite. What is annoying me ad nauseum is that you’re attacking a strawman of me. Maybe I just care about my “likeness” too much, giving those strawmen some voodoo-doll powers. Not the power to hurt me, just the power to annoy me ad nauseum. You practitioner of voodoo! (Sorry, people from Haiti, I know, I’m playing into incorrect western media stereotypes of your religion.)

    thats just hard lines you wanted to talk about yours and others beliefs in the open.

    Can you understand that taking such a hard-lines approach drives beliefs into recesses where they can’t be talked about?

    If I come across as condescending that is because I am not religious and don’t have any knee jerk reactions to blasphemes statements.

    Not quite… but nevermind.

    saneman, if you cared a bit about what I really believe, you’d have read the links Ben’Jammin sent you a long time ago, and not be stereotyping me so terribly incorrectly. And you’d then not be irritating me ad nauseum.

    Why dont you believe in a historical Mohammand and the Koran or any one of the other thousands of religions.

    I do believe there was a historical Mohammad. And the reason I follow Jesus is because it is what I know. It is the “language-of-divinity” that I grew up with. Why do you speak English, and not, say, Swahili or Japanese? To me, it’s the same question.

    Thanks for asking, rather than simply telling and judging. Asking questions goes a long way to understanding people. Though you really should be asking them sincerely in your head.

    Wrong again. We’re in a discussion about burning in hell for all eternity.

    You need to stop being condescending and telling people they are wrong about things you couldn’t possibly in your wildest dreams actually know for a fact.

    So you are truly and honestly unable to see any difference in talking about “how many pairs of sandals jesus could have worn” and beliefs in an everlasting burning hell in the afterlife? C’mon, saneman, get a mind that’s worth talking to! How often when talking about people that “blow themselves up” is there talk about “the number of sandals”? How often is there talk about heaven and hell and many virgins?

    Here’s your full quote:

    getting sucked into a discussion about how many pair of sandals jesus could have worn or what he hypothetically meant if he hypothetically existed and hypothetically said X is just what you want, its not useful and just plays into your hands of creating a place where you try force people to stick to topics you deem acceptable and don’t rock your boat

    And I say again, you are wrong there. If you are unable to understand the “nuances” of the discussion, you’re wasting your and our time here. I do know for a fact that people’s lives are affected by afterlife beliefs. I do know for a fact that there are less than 0.01% of people whose lives are affected by the number of sandals Jesus could have worn. If you dare call me condescending on calling you wrong here, there’s no way in hell you could blame me for calling you condescending. And, on top of that, please leave. Admit that you’re wrong, that there is a difference, or leave.

    The very fact that you are worried about hell and if you are going there.
    I MEAN COME ON!!!

    I’m sorry? You think I’m worried about hell? This is what frustrates me ad nauseum. A week ago I wrote a blog post that explained clearly how I don’t believe in an afterlife. $%#@!^#! – can you friggen stop squeezing me in the box your mind wants me to be in? Apologise or leave.

    Now where do you get off telling people that X topic or X method of discussion is useless ?????

    Wait, let me get you strait… are you telling me off for telling others off about what topics are considered useless? Let me quote your words at you:

    getting sucked into a discussion about how many pair of sandals jesus could have worn or what he hypothetically meant if he hypothetically existed and hypothetically said X is just what you want, its not useful

    You hypocrite! Join the club of all us hypocrites. Admit it, or leave! Say “Hi, my name is saneman, and I’m a hypocrite”. You may use other words, but you must be sincere, and demonstrate sincerity. Or you must leave. Or I must moderate your comments from now until you learn to play ball. You can go start your own blog.

    You constantly go on about how your end goal is to bring fundamentalists in from the ledge, but thats all you want to do !!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    stuff getting the person to think for themselves you just want them to subscribe to your particular interpretation of your preferred myth.

    Flippit saneman. Stop friggen stereotyping me according to the world in your head. That settles it: you should hit the moderation queue from now on. Don’t waste time writing very long comments, it will take me too long to moderate them, and quite possibly they’ll irritate me, so I’ll never publish them. As I mentioned, you’re welcome to start your own blog. Posts that link to mine will pop up in the pingbacks, I’ll never delete those. Congratulations on being the first person to achieve this esteemed status!

    If you want to have a personal private conversation in your living room reassuring yourself about your beliefs and how you think everyone should subscribe to your way of thinking without anyone being allowed to criticize. Then ban everyone and invite the 3 people who will play by your specific rules.

    So far, I can invite everyone, and ban just one or two.

    and I think you are pretty clever

    Why thank you. I think you might be quite intelligent, but that you’re wasting it. I don’t find your actions to be very clever. Sorry, I’m just being honest, this is how I feel. It’s not supposed to be condescending.

    @ everyone in reference to #109 – i.e. excluding Kenneth, *you lose*. That goes for me as well, I also lose. And it goes for Bendul as well, because he was, like me, unable to hold to his commitment to step out of the conversation and stay out. ;-) Welcome back Bendul, join the club of the frustrated.

    On the other hand, I quite enjoy the discussion, I’m happy for such discussions to happen. I quite enjoy *observing* them. But while I enjoy the conversation, we still lose: by definition of the “game” I consider us all to be playing, #109 is a loss. (Human interaction in terms of game theory, in general. I haven’t read “The Games People Play” yet, curious about it, but it’s probably pop-psychology.) A technological solution is direly needed to avoid having to choose between losing again and again, and stomping out all such discussions.

    With regards to religious fundamentalism (now I mean this label to refer to Amanda and Thomas’ beliefs, and I don’t mean it in a derogatory sense, just a word to refer to a viewpoint): I feel this kind of discussion has a tendency to separate the world into two. Some get pulled into fundamentalism by it, the rest are pushed away, and communication breaks down. I consider it to possibly *reinforce* fundamentalism, because of the fact that some are pulled into it, by the nature of the conversation and the effect on those with beliefs that make them prone to it.

    So maybe this conversation reinforces fundamentalism, maybe it doesn’t. I don’t particularly care or mind, I’m quite apathetic about it. Maybe it helps people out. But I don’t think it’s easy to say one or the other. What I *do* have an issue with, is when people admonish me for “encouraging fundamentalism” by running e.g. my blog, if those same people take part in a conversation that might also encourage fundamentalism. Both are uncertain. From one perspective, those would seem like hypocrites, not so? Yay humanity. Yay me… We’re all in the same boat, aren’t we.

    @saneman #111:

    how come when ever religious discussion get heated war is mentioned?

    Maybe because the two are so closely related… over the centuries, in the psyche, etc.

    #111 was actually pretty cool in its content. Would have liked if there wasn’t the use of “delusion” in it though, it seems too loaded, too emotional a word, in my experience. Much like I ought to refrain from using the word “fundamentalist”.

    Amen to Bendul #112.

    Time to adjust my threshold for commenting again, I’m too verbose.

    Amanda:

    @Hugo: Jy het reeds twee keer gekies om nie my vraag of jy Thomas verban het te antwoord nie. Ek sal nou maar op sy blog gaan vra of hy weggehardloop het of nie.

    Please don’t make saneman’s mistake: until that point, I hadn’t ignored your question at all, I simply didn’t read 99% of the commenting taking place. My comments were dropped without reading other comments in depth. When I’m fasting from the comments on this blog, practising “abstinence”, I do so imperfectly: I do check who’s commenting, how many comments, my eye catches some requests here and there, but for the rest, I skip them.

    I do have a confession to make though: I did catch this particular comment of yours. And I had an emotional reaction to it: my emotions flared and I thought “the cheek!” – and decided I’m not answering: something of an “if that’s what you expect of me, that’s how I’ll behave” attitude. Also a good reason not to expect the worst from people, to not marginalise them, to build them up, like Jesus did. Having the best expectation of someone can bring out the best. (I’m thinking out loud, talking to myself. I’m not saying you have to do this, it’s just my way of seeing things and convincing myself to be more positive about everyone. – Sorry saneman, I did try, but I failed with you.)

    In addition, I was curious to see what Thomas might say, in response to that question. I didn’t know his comments had been classified as spam by the automatic spam filter. Maybe askimet users around the internet are frustrated by that kind of comment? ;-) I maintained the intention of answering when I got around to a thorough reply, like I’m doing right now. Either way: mea culpa. I apologise.

    Hold on. Aren’t natural numbers a subset of rational numbers?

    Counting infinites is difficult. How does one count? The solution: pairing numbers up, one pair at a time. If you can do that, there’s an “equal amount” of them, even if you continue for ever. So infinity == infinity, for natural and rational, even though one is a subset of the other. !!! Once you wrap your head around that one, what really breaks it the second time round, is that there is some way of proving that it is impossible to do that kind of pairing for rational and irrational, that there will always be more irrational numbers no matter what way you try to pair them.

    (Example: natural, vs integers: you can pair like follows: 1&0, 2&1, 3&-1, 4&2, 5&-2, 6&3, etc. Countably infinite, i.e. you can technically “count” them, though it would take you forever. For the rational numbers, you arrange them in a discrete 2D plane and zig zag diagonally from the corner at 0,0 if you’re looking at only one quadrant. Or rotate in a spiral about 0,0)

    OK, I digress. But it’s fun.

    Yes saneman, I’ve followed Jesus and Mo for a while, when I had time, a year or something ago. I also checked out http://russellsteapot.com/ – that one’s stopped though. Which means you can go and read “all of them”. I enjoyed it more than Jesus and Mo.

    (Might I mention again: don’t underestimate me? ;-) )

    @saneman #129: interesting article, The Virtue of Being Moderate. A bit biased (yea, the moderate in me, must be, watering it down), seems like it could have been meant to be a political slur against anyone that’s not dedicated to either the republican or the democratic party. Take Obama. Is he a moderate?

    That article does not represent the way I’m using “moderate”. Maybe I should find another word instead of “moderate” then, eh… I’d spend all day just looking for words, rather than using them! Anyway, my idea of a political moderate (as opposed to conservative and liberal) is not one that doesn’t have strong opinions, it’s just one whose opinions don’t always line up with one extreme or the other. They could vote with the Republicans on some issues, and with the Democrats on others. They don’t subscribe to any particular ideology.

    So a non-moderate, by this “extremist” definition of moderate, is someone that doesn’t commit to a particular ideology. And even the “ideological” people often have issues with others that commit to the wrong ideologies. And yea, there can also be said to exist a “moderate ideology”. It irritates me that I have to write defensively like this. Some say self-reflection and awareness of this kind of talk is a sign of being an adult… When two adults talk, it shouldn’t be necessary to constantly question this, they should be able to trust each other to be adult about things, and get on with their lives, knowingly living in a mutually self-reflective state, only needing to remind themselves or each other when things really turn ugly.

    So I label myself as someone that rejects all labels, and that’s that.

    @Amanda:

    No problem. I didn’t see any attack. I am wary of moderates with their hidden agendas, though.

    I would like to have no hidden agenda, so I would like to talk about that. I’ve written blog posts on my “agenda” before, but I’ve lacked the input of someone like you. I’d love to see your angle on what my agenda might be, and I’ll include it in another post, and maybe publicise that post a bit via my “About” page. It would be useful. I can show you the post before I publish it as well, so that you can confirm you’re happy with it – with how I include your contribution. (You know how easily we can twist words to make them say something that wasn’t meant, or to satirise them with sarcasm or something like that. I really don’t want to do that, I want them to to be sincere. I want to hide nothing.)

    I’ve taken some time to develop my ideas, during which time they might have seemed more “secretive”. This was necessary, as I was still developing the language and concepts with which to communicate my ideas. That was much of Chapter 2 as well. I feel more confident in my ability to share accurately and openly now, all that inhibits me is the time it takes to write all the words it takes.

    Note to self: write about Doubting Thomas, and the seeking of a sign. (Does someone want a quick preview of my heretical feelings on the matter?)

    Thomas, quote-provided in #155:

    Would you dare to call Paul of Tarsus who received the Gospel directly from Christ arrogant?

    Hmmm, yea, I’d most certainly dare to suggest Paul may have been a little arrogant at times. He was human after all… ;-) But I do enjoy his slight “arrogant” flair.

    Amanda #180 raises a good point, and I will try writing some definitions for the words I use over the next few months.

    Hugo, you objected to me calling you a Christian #87. I take that back. It was a terrible lie.

    Thanks Amanda. I like Cobus, he’s cool, I like what he’s doing. And I’m far worse than he is, don’t judge him by me…

    OK, I’ve read it all now, too much. And I’ve written too much. Last thoughts in this comment then:

    saneman: I will try to approve all your comments that don’t grossly misrepresent my position. In this thread, it was really only your comments that irritated me. “Even” gerhard’s pretty cool, and not misrepresenting me too badly. (*poke, pulling your leg a bit, gerhard* ;) ) Makes sense, I guess,

    I think we should more or less start wrapping up this thread. Who is still actively keen to continue this discussion? Kenneth? Do you want to continue, or have you had enough?

    I’m considering calling a “last round” and then disabling comments on this post for a while. Thoughts, from anyone that hasn’t already stepped out? Bendul’s gone.

  • 192 Hugo // Feb 7, 2009 at 11:34 pm

    I do believe there was a historical Mohammad. And the reason I follow Jesus is because it is what I know. It is the “language-of-divinity” that I grew up with. Why do you speak English, and not, say, Swahili or Japanese? To me, it’s the same question.

    That said, as I explore the wealth in my own tradition, in Christianity, it continues to rock my world. While I cannot talk about the other traditions, as I don’t know them, there is much of great value in Christianity that I doubt I’d find in many of the other options. But can I really know, as I’ve not explored them? So I withhold my judgement.

    I would love to explore some of it, in particular Zen Buddhism has some fascinating ideas that I’ve discovered via two particular friends, but there is only so much time. What fascinates me is some of the similarities to be found in the two. Zen ideas allow me to see Christianity in a new light. And vice versa. And the vast differences are also a way to recognise and illuminate the similarities, and to consider the truths in a new light.

    (Zen seems more of a philosophical approach to life than a superstition or a religion. There are, of course, again many other variants of Buddhism, many get much weirder and simply wouldn’t work for me.)

  • 193 Amanda // Feb 7, 2009 at 11:35 pm

    @Hugo

    Also a good reason not to expect the worst from people, to not marginalise them, to build them up, like Jesus did.

    One last time: Jesus Christ of the Bible saves people.

    And are not considered “perfectly reasonable”? Only those conforming to the “evangelical fundie” stereotype are considered to be “perfectly reasonable” in the way they see things? How much sense does that make… how fair is that…?

    It is not about being fair and nice. It is about truth. Scholars like John Shelby Spong and Marcus Borg? Hugo, I feel very sorry for your generation. The church has cheated you.

    I can show you the post before I publish it as well,

    That is very gracious of you, but my interest is only in protecting the church against apostate, ‘moderate’ preachers. My comment was not at all aimed at political moderates.

    Thanks Amanda. I like Cobus, he’s cool, I like what he’s doing. And I’m far worse than he is, don’t judge him by me…

    :) No, I am not. The church should judge his teachings though.

  • 194 Hugo // Feb 7, 2009 at 11:55 pm

    Hmm, am I not preaching on my blog? An apostate from my fundie past? A “moderate preacher” in a sense? (Wouldn’t you rather call them “liberal” by the way? Or is “moderate” enough?)

  • 195 Amanda // Feb 8, 2009 at 12:57 am

    @Hugo

    Hmm, am I not preaching on my blog? An apostate from my fundie past? A “moderate preacher” in a sense?

    Sure, but you are not teaching it inside the church. Christian parents are not sending their children to your blog in order to be taught Christianity. As a private individual you can preach anything you like and even start your own church. As long as you are up front about what it is that you are teaching then people can choose whether to join you or not. No problem.

    I have a huge problem with Dominee Cobus, and others, changing the very basic doctrines of the church, mixing it with other religions and teaching it to unsuspecting children. If he converts to Buddhism and leaves the church, I will be sad for him, but he is free to make that choice.

    Yes, ‘liberal’ is exactly right.

  • 196 Ben-Jammin' // Feb 8, 2009 at 4:22 am

    saneman, if you cared a bit about what I really believe, you’d have read the links Ben’Jammin sent you a long time ago

    I thought saneman did read that. Damn my combination of optimism, projection and lack of omniscience!

    Hey Hugo, off-topic, but you might like the following link. One of the most well-respected posters on one of my other discussion forums has a site where he posts his essays and such. He’s a lot smarter and more educated than me and I enjoy reading him immensely.

    http://www.aetheling.com/
    (Scroll down to the ‘articles’ and the ‘essays and stories.’ Lots of short and interesting stuff, similar to what you’d read over at the Edge website.)

  • 197 gerhard // Feb 8, 2009 at 5:17 am

    amanda:
    @amanda

    Yes? So what is their gospel? Here is another piece of Good News from the Bible:

    hold up here. I’m talking gospel, noun, 4. A teaching or doctrine of a religious teacher. Not. Gospel, the good news or evangelium is the message of Jesus, the Christ, specifically his atoning death on the cross and resurrection, the descent of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost as “helper” (paraclete), and the resulting promise and hope of salvation for the faithful.

    How has the Bible helped you? I am trying to understand how you will be able to use the Bible as mere literature. Won’t you have to do some heavy editing to remove God first?

    have you read books with inspirational or informative value? Do you need believe in or remove rah to find value in what the authors tried to communicate about him? Does one need to be part of an ancient culture to learn anything from them? By dismissing them you learn nothing , nothing about what those people believed , nothing about why they believed. I see works like this , previously existing only a dynamic oral tradition. Passed down from generation to generation, they were open documents until we developed writing.
    does that help?

    For instance you could let the first six verses of Proverbs flow over you?

    I certainly wouldn’t give it as much value as literalist taking the literal interpretation.

    But what do you do with the following verse? The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge; fools despise wisdom and instruction.
    Pro 1:7

    look, there is very little point in quoting specific bible portions to me and asking my thoughts or interpretations . I realize that you’re probably an expert at literal bible interpretation when compared to me. I’ve tried to explain above that i evaluate it like any other work of it’s kind so I can’t give you the type of evaluation on quotes that you would like me to give me regarding value judgments.

    Still reading. I can now see where you are coming from, thank you.

    please , i would really like to have that conversation with you when hugo does the ‘jesus fight, did he exist or not, why should we care and why does this derailing always happen followup post. ™’ I just hope you’ll be able to refrain from using the bible to prove the bible. in otherwords , as it is the bible making the assertion of jesus’s existence that is why you can’t quote from it directly.
    will you join us on it?

  • 198 Kenneth Oberlander // Feb 8, 2009 at 9:33 am

    @Amanda

    May I ask if you are an atheist or do you have a religion?

    I am an atheist.

    Do you believe the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, the Father of the Lord Jesus Christ is the one true God, but you hate Him?

    No. This is a misconception. I don’t believe there is no god, I have a lack of belief. I certainly don’t hate a non-existent entity.

    Do you believe a god to your liking would be love, but not holy nor righteous?

    To be honest, whether a god is to my liking or not is besides the point. I’d settle for the existence of a god before worrying what qualities can be attributed to that god.

  • 199 Kenneth Oberlander // Feb 8, 2009 at 9:55 am

    @Thomas

    Epicurus may have been a very distinguished Greek philosopher but he had very little gray matter in the uppermost part of his body.

    Doubtless he had roughly the same amount as most people.

    I’m not too sure whether you know, but the best way to test someone’s IQ is to ask them whether they know what the difference is between a spider and a spider’s web. Epicurus didn’t seem to know. Do you, Kenneth?

    Ad hominen fallacy, and poisoning the well. You do know he was instrumental in defining the scientific method? Not to mention one of the first egalitarianists? So as an intellectual, and a moral visionary, I would say he can be forgiven his little errors about arachnids. It doesn’t speak much for your argument when you make statements like these.

    Besides, Newton was wrong about alchemy. Darwin was wrong about whale evolution, among other things. Einstein was wrong about quantum physics. Should we throw out what they got right? Because that is what you are arguing.

    The problem with evil is not the evil itself.

    I would have thought this is exactly the problem with evil.

    No! something had to be done with the perpetrators of evil (you and I and every other human being) for man’s heart was and is still the instigator of evil.

    And here I was thinking it was Satan. My bad.

    Had Epicurus known this he would probably never have accused God of malevolence and impotence in such a vindictive, arrogant and high-minded way.

    You are aware Epicurus lived several hundred years before Christ was born? And was certainly not a monotheist?

    It was in regard to the real problem of evil (the heart of man), that the Gospel of God took shape.

    Actually, no. The gospel of god was a direct consequence of the outgrowth of an obscure Judean cult of the first century BCE, which incorporated a substantial amount of previous mythologies from the inhabitants of the Levant at the time. Arguably modern human beings existed, and arguably did evil things, for tens of thousands of years beforehand. If the gospel emerged to solve the problem of evil, it did so very late.

    It began before the foundation of the earth when the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit presciently foreknew that mankind would fall into sin

    This makes no sense. God knew we would be evil if he made us the way we were? Then why did he make us this way? And then why isn’t he being punished for making us the way we are?

    and decided to deal with the perpetrators of evil in a way that would set man free from evil and also the consequences thereof.

    Why didn’t he do this from the very beginning? Then there would be no need for all this schlep. Not to mention, then we wouldn’t have evil to deal with. Seriously, this is no argument!

  • 200 Thomas // Feb 8, 2009 at 9:59 am

    Hugo @ one of his other monster posts.

    I would like to have no hidden agenda, so I would like to talk about that. I’ve written blog posts on my “agenda” before, but I’ve lacked the input of someone like you. I’d love to see your angle on what my agenda might be, and I’ll include it in another post, and maybe publicise that post a bit via my “About” page. It would be useful. I can show you the post before I publish it as well, so that you can confirm you’re happy with it – with how I include your contribution. (You know how easily we can twist words to make them say something that wasn’t meant, or to satirise them with sarcasm or something like that. I really don’t want to do that, I want them to to be sincere. I want to hide nothing.)

    You seem to loathe the term Christian. At least you are honest and open in saying that, but would you care to tell us how you became a follower of Jesus Christ? – especially in the light of the words of the apostle of love (whom you and I as well as the other visitors to your blog, I dare say, try to imitate.

    2 John verse 9 Whosoever transgresseth, and abideth not in the doctrine of Christ, hath not God. He that abideth in the doctrine of Christ, he hath both the Father and the Son.

    Following Jesus Christ and abiding in His doctrine seem tot be inseparable.

    I know it can be pretty overwhelming to answer every single post, but I would appreciate it if you would kindly reconsider your decision to avoid and ignore me.

    As for your “askimet” excuse, I must say I am honored to see that you have ever so effortlessly switched the words “avoid” and “ignore” with “spam.” It proves that someone somewhere is noticing despite the fact that the Gospel has never been popular.

  • 201 Kenneth Oberlander // Feb 8, 2009 at 10:22 am

    Aaaaarggh. Blockquote failure. Third and fourth last paras are Thomas’s.

    Next section:

    Smoking, for instance, may not be regarded as evil by the majority

    From my perspective, smoking isn’t evil. It is stupid for the perpetrator, and inconsiderate towards others when done in company.

    but they would hardly disagree that cancer, the consequence of smoking, is evil.

    Evil or not, cancer is unnecessary suffering. We should be doing all we can to manage it, or get rid of it.

    Similarly a woman’s freedom of choice to have an abortion may not be regarded as evil by the majority but the consequences thereof – the death of a baby and in many cases the death of the mother – is indeed evil.

    You are aware that 25% of pregnancies end in miscarriage? Who is responsible for aborting those foetuses? Besides, the risk of death to the mother in childbirth in developed countries is extremely low. This is an argument for medically-assisted abortion.

    No matter what God does, He will always be blamed for the pain, suffering and death mankind inflicts on himself. That, in my opinion is pure cowardice.

    Really? I don’t blame god. How could I? I blame people for the harm that they cause, and myself for the harm that I cause. That, in my opinion, is taking responsibility for your actions. In my view, shifting the blame to a nonexistent entity is pure cowardice.

    Let’s face it, God is quite capable and willing to wipe evil from the face of the earth

    Then why doesn’t he do it?

    but the majority refuse to acknowledge His way of dealing with the problem of evil WITHOUT eradicating the perpetrators of evil

    Aaaaah. Of course. Again, an omnipotent god can do this. A good and loving god should do this.

    Indeed God is not willing that anyone should perish.

    No. He wants to keep as many people alive to experience eternal torment. Great tradeoff. Wonderful person. Must be fun at parties.

    He is patiently allowing mankind to play out and fill to the very brim the cup of their evil and propensity to do evil before He will say “enough is enough.”

    How long has he been saying this again?

    There is only one way to escape the consequences of evil and that is the way God provided for mankind – Jesus Christ.

    Poor Ogg in his cave 10 000 years ago. He’s in a real catch-22, isn’t he?

    You can’t expect God to prevent evil without addressing the real problem of evil – i.e. the perpetrator of evil.

    Yes, I can. That is the entire point of omnipotence.

    Do you actually have a substantive argument against the logic of the problem of evil?

  • 202 Thomas // Feb 8, 2009 at 10:35 am

    Thomas: It began before the foundation of the earth when the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit presciently foreknew that mankind would fall into sin.

    Kenneth: This makes no sense. God knew we would be evil if he made us the way we were? Then why did he make us this way? And then why isn’t he being punished for making us the way we are?

    Thomas . . . and decided to deal with the perpetrators of evil in a way that would set man free from evil and also the consequences thereof.

    Kenneth: Why didn’t he do this from the very beginning? Then there would be no need for all this schlep. Not to mention, then we wouldn’t have evil to deal with. Seriously, this is no argument!

    To you my argument may seem to be no argument but your argument proves that you hardly understand what true love is. Despite my loving and compassionate effort to explain that love is NOT coercion, enforcement, bullying and intimidation, you continue to blame God for all the mess you and the rest of mankind have heaped upon themselves. Pure love flows from a willing heart, not an unwilling one. I even used the example of a marital relationship between a man and a woman. You cannot expect the woman to love a man when he tries to force her into a relationship with him. She is supposed to choose to love you and not to be bullied into loving you

    If God were to deal with the perpetrators in accordance with His holy righteousness and justice He would have had no option but to wipe every single sinner from the face of the earth from the word go. And yet He patiently waits for every single human being to respond to His love in love.

    2 Peter 3:9 The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us–ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.

    God didn’t make you this way and neither did He want you to become this way. Once again: you don’t know what true love is. True love is to allow you to follow your own free-will and choices. He will never force you to love Him.

  • 203 Thomas // Feb 8, 2009 at 10:39 am

    Kenneth @ #203

    Evil or not, cancer is unnecessary suffering. We should be doing all we can to manage it, or get rid of it.

    You are starting to get the knack of it. Get rid of it – the smoking, that is – and you will get rid of one of the main causes of cancer.

  • 204 Kenneth Oberlander // Feb 8, 2009 at 11:03 am

    @Thomas

    To you my argument may seem to be no argument but your argument proves that you hardly understand what true love is.

    This is the first time I can remember seeing the No True Scotsman argument applied to an emotion!

    Despite my loving and compassionate effort to explain that love is NOT coercion, enforcement, bullying and intimidation, you continue to blame God for all the mess you and the rest of mankind have heaped upon themselves.

    Again, how can I blame god? I’m an atheist, for Thor’s sake! I can’t blame a non-existent person. Not to mention, that if love is not coercion, enforcement, bullying and intimidation, then why does god even need the threat of hell? A more coercise, enforcing, bullying or intimidating idea I have yet to hear.

    If God were to deal with the perpetrators in accordance with His holy righteousness and justice He would have had no option but to wipe every single sinner from the face of the earth from the word go.

    No he wouldn’t Again, omnipotence. He has an infinity of other ways to deal with the situation.

    God didn’t make you this way and neither did He want you to become this way.

    What way?

    Once again: you don’t know what true love is.

    And once again from my side: This is a No True Scotsman argument. It is invalid. Also, I would thank you not to assume such a sweeping statement from our limited contact. Especially considering the following:

    True love is to allow you to follow your own free-will and choices.

    I have been doing this for most of my life. So you have invalidated your own argument.

    You are starting to get the knack of it. Get rid of it – the smoking, that is – and you will get rid of one of the main causes of cancer.

    No. You will get rid of one of the main causes of a limited set of cancers, which are also strongly reliant on genetic and environmental factors outside of smoking. This isn’t a black or white scenario.

    Secondly, I disagreed with your original analogy. I explained my reasons. I fail to see how my disagreement logically flows into support for your position.

  • 205 Thomas // Feb 8, 2009 at 11:29 am

    Do you actually have a substantive argument against the logic of the problem of evil?

    Yes! Continue to bludgeon and ridicule God’s way of dealing with evil and you will, by your own choice, eventually experience how evil is going to be dealt with, eternally – unless you repent.

    Do you really think a good and omnipotent God would allow unrepentant haters of God to enter His eternal Kingdom and allow them to continue their ungodly ways? You must be joking.

    Really? I don’t blame god. How could I? I blame people for the harm that they cause, and myself for the harm that I cause. That, in my opinion, is taking responsibility for your actions. In my view, shifting the blame to a nonexistent entity is pure cowardice.

    To take full responsibility for your own actions is the right and honorable thing to do. Now, let’s apply your bold statement in a court of law. I’m sure you agree that such an honorable statement is an admittance of guilt and that the judge would have to mete out a sentence in accordance with the law, and that fits your crime. Not so? It would be sheer foolishness to refer to the judge as a non-existent entity and by doing so believe that you can escape his or her sound judgment. By the way, it is only the fool that says in his heart there is no God (Psalm 14:1). If the admittance of your guilt requires the judge to make a just and right judgment, why do expect the Great Judge to do less when you transgress His Laws?

  • 206 Kenneth Oberlander // Feb 8, 2009 at 11:56 am

    @Thomas

    Yes! Continue to bludgeon and ridicule God’s way of dealing with evil and you will, by your own choice, eventually experience how evil is going to be dealt with, eternally – unless you repent.

    Interesting. There is no coercion, enforcement, bullying and intimidation in that statement.

    Do you really think a good and omnipotent God would allow unrepentant haters of God to enter His eternal Kingdom and allow them to continue their ungodly ways? You must be joking.

    Two things:
    1)If you are suggesting that I am a hater of god, you are clearly not getting it. I don’t hate god, because, by my very standpoint, there is no evidence that he/she/it/they exist(s).
    2)Yes, exactly, I am suggesting this. No matter how unrepentant or hateful the actions of his subjects, an omnipotent god has an infinity of more benevolent ways to deal with these people.

    Not so? It would be sheer foolishness to refer to the judge as a non-existent entity and by doing so believe that you can escape his or her sound judgment.

    Because if I was standing in front of a judge in a court of law, I would have pretty good evidence that the judge existed, no?

    By the way, it is only the fool that says in his heart there is no God (Psalm 14:1).

    Sigh. How many times must I say this. I don’t believe there is no god, I have a non-belief, a lack of belief. I would be the first to say that I cannot possibly disprove the existence of god; however, Russell’s teapot shows how weak this is as an argument for god’s existence.

    If the admittance of your guilt requires the judge to make a just and right judgment, why do expect the Great Judge to do less when you transgress His Laws?

    Again, you are assuming the existence of a Great Judge. I am going to ask you again, do you have any evidence for this position?

  • 207 Amanda // Feb 8, 2009 at 12:24 pm

    @ Kenneth Oberlander

    No. This is a misconception. I don’t believe there is no god, I have a lack of belief. I certainly don’t hate a non-existent entity.

    Okay. It just seemed to me that your contempt for the Lord were neither loving nor neutral.

  • 208 Kenneth Oberlander // Feb 8, 2009 at 12:47 pm

    @Amanda
    Well, for what it is worth, I think if the Christian god did exist, then many of his actions would indeed be contemptible. But this is, to me, the point of the whole affair. I can still condemn the actions of Lady Macbeth or Sauron or the Borg or Loki without acknowledging their existence.

  • 209 Amanda // Feb 8, 2009 at 12:59 pm

    @Gerhard

    . I’m talking gospel, noun, 4. A teaching or doctrine of a religious teacher. Not. Gospel, the good news or evangelium is the message of Jesus, the Christ, specifically his atoning death on the cross and resurrection, the descent of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost as “helper” (paraclete), and the resulting promise and hope of salvation for the faithful.

    You said that beautifully!

    No, I do not deny that other religions have teachings. They just do not have anything compared to the Christian Gospel, confirmed by the fulfillment of prophecies and the resurrection. What they have, is some reward that you can earn through works, like your boss paying you at the end of the month. The Gospel is more like your boss saying: While you have been messing around, breaking every rule of this company and annoying the ladies with your lustful looks, Someone Else has done it all and earned it all on your behalf and you never have to work again. Well done, my son.

    look, there is very little point in quoting specific bible portions to me and asking my thoughts or interpretations .

    No, I meant to point out that the Bible is God’s revelation of Himself and you will find Him everywhere. By reading and exposing yourself to that, it might cause you to backslide.

    I just hope you’ll be able to refrain from using the bible to prove the bible. in otherwords , as it is the bible making the assertion of Jesus’s existence that is why you can’t quote from it directly.

    Aha! You are inviting me to a dual, but I must come unarmed?

    For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart. Heb 4:12

    will you join us on it?

    Thank you, Gerhard. I will give you my answer with the explanation later today?

  • 210 Amanda // Feb 8, 2009 at 1:16 pm

    @Kenneth Oberlander

    I can still condemn the actions of Lady Macbeth or Sauron or the Borg or Loki without acknowledging their existence.

    .

    I am just curious and you do not have to indulge me, okay? Can you point me to somewhere on the Internet where you have shown the same passion in condemning another fictional character? I would especially enjoy reading how you go after the gods of other religions.

  • 211 Hugo // Feb 8, 2009 at 1:24 pm

    Amanda asked whether Proverbs 1 verse 7 can be understood in a non-theistic or post-theistic way. Here’s my attempt at explaining its basic meaning from that angle:

    The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge; fools despise wisdom and instruction.

    …it is talking about humility. “Fools despise wisdom and instruction”, and the concept of “fear of the LORD” is what represented, to the culture of the time, not having the arrogance to think yourself to be “above all that”. In attempts to translate to a non-theistic perspective, I find it sometimes helps to consider what it could mean in a pantheistic perspective.

    You seem to loathe the term Christian. At least you are honest and open in saying that, but would you care to tell us how you became a follower of Jesus Christ?

    “Loathe” is certainly too strong a word. I have no loathing for the term “Christian”, I just have apathy towards labels, caring only about what they point to. As such, I don’t much care for arguments as to who would be a “real Christian” and who would be “not a Christian”, and prefer to avoid such debates. I happily leave it up to other people to decide whether that label is relevant to me or not.

    I started life as a Christian, was raised a Christian. I was baptised at age 13 in the Jordan river in Israel, far away from the tourist spots, while on a two week educational tour with my church, from The Netherlands, where we lived at the time. Later, back in South Africa, my faith ended up on the backburner for a while, not having a community that worked for me. During university years, I tried a couple of communities: Stellenbosch Gemeente most of the time, NG Moederkerk for a while, back to SG. In 2004 I attended a “koshuis geestelike kamp”, it was a rough time in my life. It was organised by Shofar. There I ended up falling to my knees in a rather emotional session, and committed to Shofar as my new community. I spent about three months there, when I started noticing the cracks. In my experience, once I started noticing and paying attention to the cracks, it was over for me. Fundamentalism, that is. The following quarter was one of ignoring the problem, and just living my life. I tried things I had never tried before, like actually going to bars and playing some pool in the middle of the night, and actually becoming tipsy for the first time in my life. That was a glorious quarter, I’m glad I did that.

    Anyway, the years was a long journey, rather rough. In 2006 I started reading in earnest. (It was a journey that certainly kicked off prayerfully: the books a friend lent me were as much an answer to my prayers as anything. CS Lewis was my second read in that.) The reading journey included about ten books, and supported my escape from the influence of fundamentalism from my youth. It also introduced me to another way of looking at the Bible. (Enter the “liberal” views…)

    In 2007 I started blogging, grappling with this thing known as “Christianity”, trying to find and encourage the good in it, while confronting the horrors. To no avail. Bumping my head against fundamentalists a couple of times, conjuring up feelings of “hopelessness” about the whole matter, and also discovering my own fear of publicly committing apostasy, I felt that’s no good reason to stay in Christianity. If you’re in it, I felt, you should have *chosen* for it, rather than just sticking with it because you’re too chicken to leave. So the third quarter saw me openly deconverting: I gave up on the struggle “against bad Christianity” and “for good Christianity” (as per my subjective value judgements as well as my knowledge of science and critical thinking), and announced my deconversion on my blog: I labelled myself a secular humanist.

    It was then, from the outside, without the fear of “what I am” or “what I’m seen to be” that I was able to evaluate and understand Jesus’ message in peace: his teachings, his life, death, “resurrection”, the meaning of it all, which is quite independent of historical concerns. Throughout 2007, I was attending Stellenbosch Gemeente as well. I even officially became a member in the beginning of the year — I’ll share my letter I wrote prior to that, later this week, as I’m discussing it now. From the perspective of an “outsider”, everything started falling into place in my head, and I finally understood (i.e. felt, from my perspective, with my understanding) what it was all about. But yes, a “liberal” understanding, as the conservatives would want to label it. To which I’d point out Jesus was a liberal Jew… ;-)

    So that saw me recommit to what I understood to be The Way, as the early Christians called it. And my intention is to describe this “Way” as I see it, and why it is so amazing for me. Its context and value is one of liberation from oppressive power structures (the religious and political views of the time, religion and politics being one and the same back then). In terms of updating to a modern context, I do see a lot of contemporary Essenes, Pharisees, Saducees, oppressive power structures, purity codes, etc, i.e. all the context in which Jesus’ message really shines. To me, that is why it remains relevant throughout the millennia, and always will be: human nature hasn’t changed, we’ve only learned many more things, developed our knowledge and technology, but our sins are still with us, and they still need a solution. And I still see the solution in what I’d call “the Gospel according to Jesus”. My return to following Jesus also took a while, and also involved a happening or two that caused a mind shift in me, some metanoia, a new way of seeing things, a “miracle” if you’d label things as such. A synchronicity, even…? Matters not.

    All that said, posts relevant to this comment:

    Rebirth! -> deconversion announcement.
    On Labelling Myself a Humanist -> an explanation of what the term means. I’m *still* a humanist, but it is a broad term. In short, it means I believe in compassion, and that humans have been given the ability to use their brains to reason about right and wrong — also known to some as “having it written on our hearts” — and I consider it a sin to not use this ability, to hide this talent under the “maatemmer” (was that right? what’s the English for it?)
    I wrote In Too Deep as a description of my journey as a whole, this comment kinda gives another angle or gives more details, In Too Deep was written when I felt strongly about it and was quite an emotional post, an emotional experience to write it. It was good to get it out.
    October saw my “how to convert an atheist” series, starting at How to Convert an Atheist (1 of 3) – and while the third post didn’t turn out the way I imagined when I started the first, writing the series was part of my process of “returning to Jesus”.
    Towards the end of that month, (Ex?)Christian Evangelism pretty much signals my return.
    November is best avoided. I went a little bit crazy with all the things happening: I was finishing my thesis under tremendous amounts of stress/pressure. ;-) But it’s there. There’s a lot of incriminating things, which I leave up intentionally. I don’t want to hide anything or whitewash my past.

    So, FWIW, I hope that answers some questions.

    With regards to miracles and supernatural claims and explicit beliefs in physical bodily resurrections: I don’t care much about that, about the historicity of these things that carry much meaning. The meaning is enough for me. In short, from where I’m standing, I’d quote the Doubting Thomas bits from the Bible:

    An unbelieving nation demands a sign, prior to being prepared to commit to The Way. That sign? To me, demanding supernatural events is one of those things, and me not caring about whether they happened or not, is my way of not being a doubting Thomas. Those that say “I won’t follow The Way if there isn’t some supernatural miracle that serves as a sign that I should”, that to me, from my point of view, is a Doubting Thomas.

    I know it can be pretty overwhelming to answer every single post, but I would appreciate it if you would kindly reconsider your decision to avoid and ignore me.

    Apologies if it seemed I was ignoring you in particular. I answered comments I felt a need to answer. On a per-comment-level, it seems I was able to read your comments without being driven to respond. It wasn’t a “person-based” choice.

    As for your “askimet” excuse, I must say I am honored to see that you have ever so effortlessly switched the words “avoid” and “ignore” with “spam.” It proves that someone somewhere is noticing despite the fact that the Gospel has never been popular.

    I don’t understand that paragraph of yours, I have some hint as to what it might be trying to imply, but I can’t quite put my finger on it.

  • 212 Hugo // Feb 8, 2009 at 1:28 pm

    Sorry Kenneth, for chipping in on your conversation and answering on your behalf, but this is a fun one to answer:

    I am just curious and you do not have to indulge me, okay? Can you point me to somewhere on the Internet where you have shown the same passion in condemning another fictional character? I would especially enjoy reading how you go after the gods of other religions.

    Show me where other fictional characters cause Kenneth’s students to reject science and critical thinking, and I’ll show you a place where he condemned it with the same passion. His biggest grief, one that brings up his passion for science, is with how certain forms of Christianity undermine critical thinking and science education.

    I don’t think he has very much personal grief about people sending him to hell or demonising him, he just doesn’t seem to be the kind of person that would be bothered by that. But when it comes to education, it’s another ball game.

  • 213 Kenneth Oberlander // Feb 8, 2009 at 1:35 pm

    @Amanda

    Can you point me to somewhere on the Internet where you have shown the same passion in condemning another fictional character?

    I can point to it right here:
    Sauron is one of the most disgusting, appalling, retch-inducing creations of the human mind. What a corrupt, power-drunk, arrogant, loathsome caricature of a being. I can understand what Tolkien was attempting in his creation of this vile demi-god, but I condemn it in the fullest possible terms.

    I would especially enjoy reading how you go after the gods of other religions.

    Why would you enjoy this? Do you think I am singling out the god of Christianity for some reason?

    Well, for what it’s worth, I am as atheist to every other god ever postulated by humanity. If we are talking about the actions attributed to a god, then I can state that most of them have done horrible, contemptible things. Zeus raped every virgin he could get his hands on. Seth wasn’t a particularly pleasant god. Neither was Loki. The god of Christianity is pretty tame by their standards.

  • 214 Amanda // Feb 8, 2009 at 1:47 pm

    Hugo

    Show me where other fictional characters cause Kenneth’s students to reject science and critical thinking, and I’ll show you a place where he condemned it with the same passion.

    Allah.

  • 215 Hugo // Feb 8, 2009 at 2:33 pm

    Ooh, now that is an interesting thought. Kenneth, have you heard of any Muslims in the science faculty giving lecturers grief?

  • 216 Kenneth Oberlander // Feb 8, 2009 at 2:36 pm

    @Amanda
    Yes, Allah…I don’t know enough about this aspect of the Abrahamic god to be able to comment. I don’t know any Islam-specific stories that this god is involved in. I do know that there aspects of Islam the religion that I find abhorrent, such as the rejection of science as Hugo pointed out. I can talk about these if you want me to. There are other aspects to Islam that are admirable. But I don’t know enough about Allah the god to be able to comment.

    Does that answer your question?

  • 217 Hugo // Feb 8, 2009 at 2:36 pm

    (We’re talking about Stellenbosch here.)

    There’s another interesting thing: Allah is the standard Arabic word for God. And Islam is also an Abrahamic faith, which means, while Christians might say they have the wrong idea about God, the God they intend worship is still the God of Abraham.

    Are you calling Allah fictional?

  • 218 Kenneth Oberlander // Feb 8, 2009 at 2:39 pm

    @Hugo
    Not offhand. Nothing that I can directly attribute to Islam itself, no.

  • 219 Amanda // Feb 8, 2009 at 5:54 pm

    @Kenneth Oberlander

    I can point to it right here:
    Sauron is one of the most disgusting, appalling, retch-inducing creations of the human mind. What a corrupt, power-drunk, arrogant, loathsome caricature of a being. I can understand what Tolkien was attempting in his creation of this vile demi-god, but I condemn it in the fullest possible terms.

    Wow! That is a loaded three-sentence paragraph. No linky?

    Why would you enjoy this? Do you think I am singling out the god of Christianity for some reason?

    Why, yes.

    Does that answer your question?

    Yes. It also tells me that my knowledge about that religion exceeds yours.

    @ Hugo

    There’s another interesting thing: Allah is the standard Arabic word for God. And Islam is also an Abrahamic faith, which means, while Christians might say they have the wrong idea about God, the God they intend worship is still the God of Abraham.

    .

    And what you just did here is called ‘taqiyya’

    Are you calling Allah fictional?

    No. I am not an atheist. I call him an idol.

  • 220 Hugo // Feb 8, 2009 at 5:56 pm

    Amanda:

    @ Hugo

    There’s another interesting thing: Allah is the standard Arabic word for God. And Islam is also an Abrahamic faith, which means, while Christians might say they have the wrong idea about God, the God they intend worship is still the God of Abraham.

    And what you just did here is called ‘taqiyya’

    How so? …

    Within the Shia theological framework,[1] the concept of Taqiyya (تقية – ‘fear, guard against’)[2] refers to a dispensation allowing believers to conceal their faith when under threat, persecution or compulsion.[3]

    Sorry, I fail to make the connection?

  • 221 Amanda // Feb 8, 2009 at 6:04 pm

    @ Hugo

    Within the Shia theological framework,[1] the concept of Taqiyya (تقية – ‘fear, guard against’)[2] refers to a dispensation allowing believers to conceal their faith when under threat, persecution or compulsion.[3]

    More Taqiyya, Hugo. Keep searching.

  • 222 Hugo // Feb 8, 2009 at 6:21 pm

    Nope, sorry. If you’d like to explain what you mean, we can talk about it. Otherwise, I’m out of this discussion again until someone specifically asks me something.

  • 223 Amanda // Feb 8, 2009 at 6:25 pm

    @ Gerhard

    Hugo posted an invitation to come here on a blog for theology students at the University of Pretoria (UP). He says everybody agrees that fundamentalism is the problem. Let’s see, Christian fundamentalists hold to the fundamentals of the faith. Post 49. I preached at you about sin, judgement, repentance and faith and pointed you to the Saviour. I even quoted Bible verses and prayed for you. That is all we have. Now doing that may annoy you, but I am confident that your self-righteousness will quickly assert itself against your conscience. No big problem.

    Moderates / liberals / emergents, however, come into my church and throw out all the fundamentals of the faith in the name of love for the neighbour. In fact, you hold the same view of Scripture as the UP’s and the emergents’ favorite ‘scholars’, Marcus Borg and John Shelby Spong. They deny the historic events, but hold onto the Bible for its truthiness.

    Tony Campolo is coming to Moreletapark to teach about missionary work, but he, and his ilk, including Rick Warren, has a political, socialist agenda to establish utopia here on earth. For that to happen, they need all religions to unite. They have found a way though the common practice of contemplative spirituality, where they all meet ‘the light’. They are confident that we can keep our own religions and still worship together at the altar of the god-of-our-many-understandings. In the end this will lead to them telling you how much of your wealth you must ‘share’ with your neighbour. This is what they mean when they talk about justice: everybody must be equally rich. You think that might be a problem? The real reason behind all this?

    Why do the nations rage and the peoples plot in vain? The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together, against the LORD and against his Anointed, saying, “Let us burst their bonds apart and cast away their cords from us.” He who sits in the heavens laughs; the Lord holds them in derision. Psa 2:1-4

    My church is at the stage where the rotten fruit of the apostate UP can brazenly walk in and preach the doctrines of demons and they can count on the Benduls to protect them. For years they have denied that there was anything stinky going on and they solemnly declared each other innocent. But they cannot deny the living proof of their work of darkness in Hugo’s friend, emergent Dominee Cobus, who is openly introducing the youth in his church to comtemplative spirituality.

    I am concerned about warning the church and I am not really interested in debating the historicity of Jesus Christ. The Lord deemed the Bible sufficient proof and He is not going to do a resurrection for each generation of unbelievers. I am satisfied that you have read the Gospel several times on this thread. Should that debate change your mind about Jesus Christ, you will know what to do. Thank you for the invitation, though.

  • 224 Amanda // Feb 8, 2009 at 6:33 pm

    @ Hugo

    Nope, sorry. If you’d like to explain what you mean, we can talk about it.

    If I did that, this thread will explode. Rather not?

  • 225 Kenneth Oberlander // Feb 8, 2009 at 6:34 pm

    @Amanda

    Wow! That is a loaded three-sentence paragraph. No linky?

    No, I made it up on the spot. It was said with as much fervour as my previous posts. Which should hopefully lay to rest your idea that I don’t comment with passion on other fictional characters. If Sauron existed, he would be worth as much of my contempt as the Biblical god, if not more.

    Why, yes.

    This is a blog that lives and breathes Christianity. This is it’s raison d’etre. Surely most posts here would focus on Christianity, it’s perceived benefits and costs? I can’t recall a post specifically discussing Islam. Hugo, has there been one? I do know I have commented on how I feel Islam should be treated in (ironically) a discussion with saneman on this topic, in the so-you-think-you-want-to-try-christianity thread.

    If you wish to discuss how much more evil or wrong Islam is, then you are shifting the focus of the conversation. Would you discuss how much better/worse Christianity is on an Islamic forum?

    Yes. It also tells me that my knowledge about that religion exceeds yours.

    Your point being? Would you tell me why this is relevant?

  • 226 Amanda // Feb 8, 2009 at 7:08 pm

    @ Kenneth Oberlander

    Would you discuss how much better/worse Christianity is on an Islamic forum?

    Slow down, Kenneth. Do you really want me to answer that question?

  • 227 Hugo // Feb 8, 2009 at 7:21 pm

    Kenneth:

    I can’t recall a post specifically discussing Islam. Hugo, has there been one?

    Some idle references in numerous places, an Islam vs Christianity satire by Stephen Colbert and … don’t know the Muslim’s name, with Jon Steward chipping in at the end, but the closest I’ve gotten was probably this post:

    An Example of a “moderate Muslim”?

    At that point I realised I can’t really branch out into things I know nothing about. It remains on my to-do list to tackle some of the writings of many of the other religions. There’s a collection of such writings in a book we inherited from my grandfather. Hopefully I’d be able to decipher his margin notes as well. ;)

    However, that endeavour would be Chapter N where N > 3, if I ever get there, and we’re on Chapter 3 now.

  • 228 Hugo // Feb 8, 2009 at 7:49 pm

    Amanda, please try to not speak incorrect things about me. The following isn’t quite true:

    Hugo posted an invitation to come here on a blog for theology students at the University of Pretoria (UP).

    I wrote the post above, wherein I invited fundamentalists to write a few comments. Cobus then echoed the thought on his blog, sending you guys here. I think that’s what you are referring to?

    He says everybody agrees that fundamentalism is the problem.

    It is a figure of speech, known as hyperbole. Incidentally, Jesus also used it, or so I believe. (An example off the top of my head would be to chop off your hand.) I acknowledge some people interpret it literally, and we can’t exactly ask Jesus exactly what he meant. But you can ask me, and I was using hyperbole.

    If I did that, this thread will explode. Rather not?

    I think it will be a valuable discussion. Would it help if I upgrade my theme so that it supports paging? Then this thread only loads 50 comments at a time, and the page doesn’t just keep on growing.

  • 229 Hugo // Feb 8, 2009 at 7:55 pm

    I wish I had the time to share some of Jesus’ teachings that would be labelled “socialistic” by the right-wing, especially if they were rephrased a little bit so that it wouldn’t be recognised as Jesus’ words.

    Copy paste doesn’t take too long, something I’ve shared before:

    Just for curiosity’s sake, a quick look at Israel’s socioeconimic legislation from the Hebrew Bible (aka the Old Testament), quoting Marcus Borg:

    “These laws also include some of the most radical socioeconomic legislation in human history. For example, no interest is to be charged on loans to fellow Israelites. Especially striking are the regulations for the sabbath year and jubilee year. Every sabbath (seventh) year, all debts owed by Israelites to other Israelites are to be forgiven and all Hebrew slaves released. Every jubilee (fiftieth) year, all agricultural land is to be returned at no cost to the original family of ownership. These laws reflect Israel’s origin in Egypt as a radically oppressed and marginalized people. Their purpose was to prevent the emergence of a permanently impoverished class within Israel.”

    Extreme, eh? ;)

    And that’s not Marcus Borg’s (mis?)interpretation, the Bible really does say that. Quite socialistic, the Bible… think we should rather not teach our kids from it? ;-)

  • 230 Hugo // Feb 8, 2009 at 8:51 pm

    I’m cringing, and apologising profusely:

    Amanda, please try to not speak incorrect things about me. The following isn’t quite true:

    Hugo posted an invitation to come here on a blog for theology students at the University of Pretoria (UP).

    I now realise you’re referring to my comment on “Hoekom net ons?” where I did in fact invite people over to see my theory on that question. “Why only UP?” I even pointed that out in a comment above.

    I’m very sorry. Clearly I’ve got a bit of a bias against you, and that’s bad. I will go ponder my sins and repent of my ways.

    What I’d like to add is: it isn’t just UP. Stellenbosch is also progressive. What other theological seminaries are there in South Africa? I’m curious if there are any that aren’t progressive. It seems inevitable that the more “fundie” leaning churches have to set schools up to train their own leaders, like Shofar does for example.

    Again, my sincere apologies.

  • 231 Amanda // Feb 8, 2009 at 8:52 pm

    @Gerhard

    Hugo posted an invitation to come here on a blog for theology students at the University of Pretoria (UP).

    I am sorry I bore false witness against Hugo. He did not post an invitation to come here on a blog for theology students at the University of Pretoria. That was a lie.

  • 232 Amanda // Feb 8, 2009 at 8:58 pm

    @ Hugo

    Sorry. Hugo. I did not see your post before I posted. You were correct the first time. My apology stands. I am sorry.

  • 233 Hugo // Feb 8, 2009 at 9:11 pm

    No prob, Amanda, we were both a bit mistaken, and we do all make mistakes. ;-)

    (FWIW, here’s the post I left at teo@UP, and my “invitation” above was echoed by Cobus in terug by die punt.)

    Amanda, I’d really like to have that other discussion if you’re prepared to tackle it. I don’t think it will explode, I’m sure we can manage it and keep it short and peaceful. I’ve “calmed down” quite a bit in my communication strategy throughout the “debate” occurring in the thread above. I’m really quite a friendly guy, once I get strong passions out of the way. ;-)

  • 234 Amanda // Feb 8, 2009 at 10:25 pm

    @Hugo

    I’d really like to have that other discussion if you’re prepared to tackle it.

    Which one? I have lost track?

  • 235 Hugo // Feb 8, 2009 at 10:26 pm

    Taqiyya…

    Nope, sorry. If you’d like to explain what you mean, we can talk about it.

    If I did that, this thread will explode. Rather not?

    That conversation. I’m most curious, and I really believe we’d be able to avoid it “exploding”.

  • 236 Amanda // Feb 8, 2009 at 11:23 pm

    @Hugo

    Very shortly. Islam divides the world into two. Where sharia law is in force it is called the land of submission. Islam means submission. The rest of the world falls under the land of war. It is the obligation of muslims to wage jihad until all the world submits to sharia and allah. The muslim is permitted to use taqiyya when they are under attack. They consider islam to be under attack wherever sharia does not yet rule. Taqiyya is the systematic use of lies to deceive the enemy so that they can achieve their aim, which is to rule the whole world. They will lie and say jihad means inner struggle, but their own scholars deny it. When they are asked to condemn a violent attack, they will always reply that the quran forbids the taking of innocent lives. They neglect to say that all non-muslims are guilty and therefore are legitimate targets. This method of deception, by leaving out relevant information, is called kitman.

    They are correct to claim Abraham as their father through Ishmael. But your claim that they worship the same God as Abraham is false and supports jihad by giving the impression to Christians that we are sort of cousins in faith with muslims and that our religions are similar. Their god is the god of their founder and he is not at all like the God of the Bible. That is how we know that they do not worship the same God, even if they say they do in order to gain legitimacy.

  • 237 Hugo // Feb 8, 2009 at 11:28 pm

    Ah, ok. Thanks, I understand now. And I don’t feel like arguing that point. (I basically consider all monotheism to be, well, talking about “the One True God”, and different versions of it basically just different understandings of that God. The rest is, to me, really semantics. A false understanding of “God” could be considered an idol, a different God, I’m fine with that interpretation as well. And therefore, I refrain from getting into a semantic argument.)

    I’m curious, from your perspective, do you consider the Christian God and the Jewish God to be “the same”, despite the different understandings of that God? Or more the same than “Allah” and “God” at least?

  • 238 Amanda // Feb 8, 2009 at 11:42 pm

    @Hugo

    If you want to learn about Islam, read the quran for yourself. It is a bit confusing, because its suras are more or less arranged in order from longest to shortest and not chronologically. This is important to know, because if two verses contradict each other, then the later one overrules the earlier one. As their founder gained military strength, those of war canceled out the more peaceful verses.

    You can see islam in action by going to Jihad Watch. At the top of the page they have a link to islam 101 that will explain things much better than I can.

  • 239 Amanda // Feb 8, 2009 at 11:53 pm

    @Hugo
    It is too late for me to carry on now. I will leave you with one thought. You and I don’t worship the same God, because you do not hold to the plain teachings of the Bible about Jesus Christ, judging by what you have said on this thread only. Maybe you should concern yourself about that, rather than the Jews.

  • 240 Hugo // Feb 8, 2009 at 11:59 pm

    My blog is precisely about that concern. ;-) I’ve refrained from digging too much into other religions, though my curiosity remains great.

    I also have a friend that converted from Christianity to Islam. His insights have been quite interesting. (I also remain very interested in the diversity of all religions, i.e. not just the “Jihad version”, but also those that are more moderate. Basically, those that are to Islam what Cobus and the emergents (and maybe even me) are to Christianity.

  • 241 Hugo // Feb 9, 2009 at 12:03 am

    And yea, another work week begins, there won’t be much commenting from my side. And Kenneth is finishing his thesis, though he’ll probably return. Thanks for the conversation! It was most interesting.

  • 242 Amanda // Feb 9, 2009 at 12:10 am

    You have a lot to learn. Islam itself is not moderate and cannot be. Please check it out?

    Thank you, too.:) And good night.

  • 243 Thomas // Feb 9, 2009 at 7:49 am

    Hugo @ 217

    Ooh, now that is an interesting thought. Kenneth, have you heard of any Muslims in the science faculty giving lecturers grief?

    Perhaps you should expand your literary knowledge from 10 books (including C.S. Lewis) to something more – much more. It helps, you know. And while you’re at it, expand your locality of scientific knowledge from one faculty to others as well. There are more than one, you know

  • 244 Kenneth Oberlander // Feb 9, 2009 at 8:13 am

    @Thomas
    ROFL.

  • 245 Amanda // Feb 9, 2009 at 12:14 pm

    @ Hugo

    I also have a friend that converted from Christianity to Islam. His insights have been quite interesting. (I also remain very interested in the diversity of all religions, i.e. not just the “Jihad version”, but also those that are more moderate.

    Friend?

    [5.51] O you who believe! do not take the Jews and the Christians for friends; they are friends of each other; and whoever amongst you takes them for a friend, then surely he is one of them; surely Allah does not guide the unjust people.

    There is a version that excludes jihad?

    [9.5] So when the sacred months have passed away, then slay the idolaters wherever you find them, and take them captives and besiege them and lie in wait for them in every ambush, then if they repent and keep up prayer and pay the poor-rate, leave their way free to them; surely Allah is Forgiving, Merciful.

    Basically, those that are to Islam what Cobus and the emergents (and maybe even me) are to Christianity.

    Correct me if I am wrong, but moderates want to live in the way of Jesus Christ and you look at His life and teachings in a new way so that you can become more like Him? So do you expect the muslim moderate to do the same and live closer in the way of their founder? Then maybe we should take a closer look at the difference in words, works and character between him and Jesus Christ.

  • 246 Kenneth Oberlander // Feb 9, 2009 at 3:34 pm

    @Amanda

    Slow down, Kenneth. Do you really want me to answer that question?

    I phrased this question rhetorically. However, if you feel you have a case to be made, then I for one would actually be more than willing to listen.

    Islam itself is not moderate and cannot be.

    Hmmm…I would argue that a literal reading of the Bible, or indeed, of many other mythologies, is not much better.

  • 247 Ben-Jammin' // Feb 9, 2009 at 6:34 pm

    Friend?

    6If thy brother, the son of thy mother, or thy son, or thy daughter, or the wife of thy bosom, or thy friend, which is as thine own soul, entice thee secretly, saying, Let us go and serve other gods, which thou hast not known, thou, nor thy fathers;

    7Namely, of the gods of the people which are round about you, nigh unto thee, or far off from thee, from the one end of the earth even unto the other end of the earth;

    8Thou shalt not consent unto him, nor hearken unto him; neither shall thine eye pity him, neither shalt thou spare, neither shalt thou conceal him:

    9But thou shalt surely kill him; thine hand shall be first upon him to put him to death, and afterwards the hand of all the people.

    10And thou shalt stone him with stones, that he die; because he hath sought to thrust thee away from the LORD thy God, which brought thee out of the land of Egypt, from the house of bondage.

    Christianity and Islam and Judaism are peas in a pod.

  • 248 Amanda // Feb 9, 2009 at 7:04 pm

    @Ben-Jammin’

    Christianity and Islam and Judaism are peas in a pod.

    And atheists. You left out atheists.

  • 249 Ben-Jammin' // Feb 9, 2009 at 7:46 pm

    And atheists. You left out atheists

    The three I listed agree that:

    God is supremely powerful, knowing, good, and eternal, created the universe, created the Earth and humans, is especially concerned with humans, spoke to Abraham, ordered Abraham to murder his son, and that Abraham acted correctly in trying to follow God’s orders to kill.

    Throwing atheism into the mix goes like this:

    “God is -”

    “Who?”

    It all diverges from there.

  • 250 Amanda // Feb 9, 2009 at 7:56 pm

    @Kenneth Oberlander

    If you wish to discuss how much more evil or wrong Islam is, then you are shifting the focus of the conversation. Would you discuss how much better/worse Christianity is on an Islamic forum?

    I phrased this question rhetorically.

    And I missed it completely. Sorry, Kenneth.

    Hmmm…I would argue that a literal reading of the Bible, or indeed, of many other mythologies, is not much better.

    You would be correct.

  • 251 Amanda // Feb 9, 2009 at 8:00 pm

    @Ben-Jammin’

    Throwing atheism into the mix goes like this:

    “God is -”

    “Who?”

    It all diverges from there.

    Nice one.

  • 252 Hugo // Feb 9, 2009 at 9:49 pm

    A friend I’ve not known very well and very long, but we’ve had some interesting conversations! He converted a couple of years ago. I had a most interesting conversation with him at a mutual friend’s wedding. I remain curious what precisely the Shofarian at the table thought of the conversation. ;-) I also have Muslim colleagues at work.

    Amanda, you ask “Friend?” as though it shocks you that someone could consider be friends with… a Samaritan? ;-) Or any of the other people you consider… “impure”, stretching that concept a bit.

  • 253 Amanda // Feb 9, 2009 at 11:01 pm

    @Hugo

    Amanda, you ask “Friend?” as though it shocks you that someone could consider be friends with… a Samaritan? ;-) Or any of the other people you consider… “impure”, stretching that concept a bit.

    Would that be shocking to you?

  • 254 Hugo // Feb 9, 2009 at 11:39 pm

    Would it be shocking to me that it is shocking to you? Actually, no, it would kinda line up with “stereotypes” too well to be shocking… No offence meant!

  • 255 Amanda // Feb 9, 2009 at 11:53 pm

    @Hugo

    But would you denouce it?

  • 256 Hugo // Feb 10, 2009 at 1:49 am

    (a) I don’t denounce what I don’t know
    (b) I don’t denounce things “in general”, broadly
    (c) I do denounce certain aspects of things

    Do I “denounce” any denial of science, for example? “Denounce” sounds too strong.

    # speak out against; “He denounced the Nazis”
    # stigmatize: to accuse or condemn or openly or formally or brand as disgraceful; “He denounced the government action”; “She was stigmatized by society because she had a child out of wedlock”

    I don’t want to stigmatize anyone, I don’t want to disgrace anyone. They’re people. But certain of their beliefs and behaviours I’m happy to “denounce”.

    For example: I denounce terrorism. I denounce hate. I denounce homophobia. I’m okay with denouncing anti-Semitism and racism. I’d soften the word “denounce” (find a softer alternative?) before I start talking about creationism and other anti-science perspectives, as I believe compassionate and peaceful education is needed, not stigmatizing and disgracing people: the latter closes the same doors through which education should enter.

    So with that paragraph, I’ve certainly denounced certain aspects of Islam. But there are other aspects that I do respect. I do respect strong community, for example, in the abstract, but it’s very bad if that community relies on lies or deceit or Othering, hating, etc to work. You’d notice, however, that with that paragraph, I’ve also denounced certain aspects of certain forms of Christianity… I’m a nuanced kind of guy, I hate thinking in terms of simplified labels that hide a whole slew of important nuances.

    I look forward to chatting with some of my Muslim colleagues, I’d like to know more about how they see the world. They’re not the fundie kind, they’re the kind that embrace diversity. There are a couple of specific viewpoints I’d like to ask them about.

  • 257 Hugo // Feb 10, 2009 at 2:01 am

    Again, these things are rather nuanced.

    There’s a difference between “someone who is a little racist, due to the way he grew up” and “an institutionalised racism, a system that discriminates”. Both could be meant by “racism”. Some examples: I wouldn’t denounce an uncle that has some slight racist streak, for example. I’ll forgive him. But I denounce apartheid.

    I denounce the active and wilful undermining of science and critical thinking. I don’t denounce people that are honestly and sincerely misguided though.

    Much has to do with whether we’re talking about an abstract idea, or something attached to a particular person, an individual. It changes many things. I could openly talk about certain beliefs as harmful, but as soon as those beliefs get attached to a particular person, and that person, or other people, are unable to distinguish between the person and that person’s beliefs, I tread very carefully. I’ve been burned on this before. And that’s why I can’t give a simple/straight answer, and the statements I made in the previous comment are so dependent upon the nuances behind each of the words I used.

  • 258 Thomas // Feb 10, 2009 at 6:51 am

    @ Kennteh @244

    ROFL.

    &

    GTIHE

  • 259 Thomas // Feb 10, 2009 at 7:15 am

    Hugo,

    You have repeatedly accused me of sending you and others to hell. I am sure you will agree that a court of law is obligated to send you to jail when found guilty on a charge of, for instance, robbery. You can hardly accuse me of sending you to jail if you fail to heed my warnings. You will have to take full responibility for your own actions (to which Kenneth Oberlander manfully agreed) and admit that you are sent to jail purely of your own accord. On the other hand, why would you want to accuse anyone of sending you to hell when hell is non-existent – like God.

  • 260 Amanda // Feb 10, 2009 at 10:30 am

    @Hugo

    Are you aware that you love the christ of this world? You speak as he speaks, you defend what he defends, and you deny what he denies. He is a swell, nuanced type of guy, just like you. He whispered into your ear: “Yea, hath God said?” and he got you to believe that you can know good and evil independently of the Word of God. He lied to you. You are stumbling around, looking for the good in evil and not to offend sinners. Is this pleasing to your master?

    To whom do you pray, Hugo? Does it have a name? Since we all worship the same God, would it by lawful to address him as ‘allah’? Do you pray ‘in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ whom-I-have-denied-all-day-long’? Or do you switch off your mind and enter into the light?

    The Christ of the Bible actually requires of you to take a stand. So everyone who acknowledges me before men, I also will acknowledge before my Father who is in heaven, but whoever denies me before men, I also will deny before my Father who is in heaven. “Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I have not come to bring peace, but a sword. Mat 10:32-34

    And by the way, Hugo, islam is not a race.

  • 261 Hugo // Feb 11, 2009 at 12:40 am

    (Open question to whoever wants to tackle it):

    Does your religion offer something other than a get-out-of-hell-free card? Meaning, suppose there was no hell-in-the-afterlife, what of real importance is left of your religion? Please motivate.

    @Amanda: if I spoke Arabic, but were a Christian, would it be wrong for me to pray in the Arabic language, using the Arabic name for God? (“Allah”.)

    Oh, and I denounce the crusades. ;-)

  • 262 Amanda // Feb 11, 2009 at 6:44 am

    @Hugo
    I know the Lord Jesus Christ!

    Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith– (Phi 3:8-9)

    I am given the fruit of the Spirit and am not in bondage to the flesh.

    But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. Gal 5:22-24

    I can boldly pray to the Lord.

    Therefore, brothers, since we have confidence to enter the holy places by the blood of Jesus, by the new and living way that he opened for us through the curtain, that is, through his flesh, and since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water. Heb 10:19-22

    I have help in my weakness, the Spirit intercedes for me, all things work together for good, God is for me.

    Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words. And he who searches hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God. And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified. What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? Rom 8:26-31

    I please the Lord and He rewards me.

    And without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him. Heb 11:6

    I have hope.

    Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. Heb 11:1

    I have a Shepherd.

    The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want. Psa 23:1

    I have help in time of need.

    Since then we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need. Heb 4:14-16

    I know the end.

    And they assembled them at the place that in Hebrew is called Armageddon. Rev 16:16

    That is just the short list.

    Amanda: if I spoke Arabic, but were a Christian, would it be wrong for me to pray in the Arabic language, using the Arabic name for God? (“Allah”.)

    Oh, and I denounce the crusades. ;-)

    Hugo, you are hilarious!

    “No doubt you are the people, and wisdom will die with you. Job 12:2

  • 263 Amanda // Feb 11, 2009 at 8:46 am

    @Hugo

    atheist:

    There shall be no other god before me, except me.

    islam:

    72 virgins. 72 virgins. 72 virgins

    christ follower:

    Ooo, that is so nuanced. I shall have to ponder that.

    emergent:

    law law law work work work

  • 264 Kenneth Oberlander // Feb 11, 2009 at 9:01 am

    @Amanda

    There shall be no other god before me, except me.

    Now this is just plain silly. It combines a strawman with projection in the most inaccurate way possible.

    Atheism is a lack of belief in god(s). Nonbelief. For you to suggest that atheists think they are gods is downright laughable.

    72 virgins. 72 virgins. 72 virgins

    Really? You can sum up the followers of an entire religion in this way? Again, strawman.

    Ooo, that is so nuanced. I shall have to ponder that.

    Aren’t you a follower of Christ? Or are you trying to typecast Hugo in this role?

    law law law work work work

    You know, stereotyping entire groups of people can work both ways. Would you find it constructive for me to similarly typecast you and yours?

    If yes, then this conversation is going to rapidly descend into insults. Unless, of course, you find that constructive…

    If no, then stop doing it to others.

  • 265 Amanda // Feb 11, 2009 at 10:47 am

    Atheist:

    There shall be no other god before me, except me. Thou shalt not mock.

  • 266 Hugo // Feb 11, 2009 at 10:58 am

    Can’t help but to chip in at this point, I’d suggest more something like…

    Atheist:

    There shall be me, and humanity, and our relationships, community, compassion, love, truth, many of the things others might classify under “God”, but we shall not call it “God”, for we consider it to be misleading on too many other levels.

    Kenneth, feel free to extend as you see fit/relevant.

    I’ll respond to the rest this evening. Probably. Thanks for the input, #262, Amanda! I agree with #264 though, it would have been mostly better if you didn’t write #263.

  • 267 Amanda // Feb 11, 2009 at 11:21 am

    christ follower:

    There shall be me, and humanity, and our relationships, community, compassion, love, truth and many other things and we shall call it “God”

    Hugo, feel free to extend as you see fit/relevant. Seriously, I would really like to see your answer to your own question.

  • 268 gerhard // Feb 11, 2009 at 12:25 pm

    amanda : you forgot this group, fundamentalist christains

    we use our religion as an exuse to hatemonger but pretend its selfless love

    atheists :

    grumpy because you guys just won’t leave us or society alone with your religious hate mongering

    or

    grumpy because you guys keep spreading false lies about us, something you don’t actually know but fear, mainly because of the hate mongering.

    or

    grumpy because you guys keep inventing ‘facts’ about reality to justify your position. irrespective of how absurd it is just as long as a guy on a palpit confirms it.

    or

    grumpy because they regularly observe fundies picketing outside of fertility clinics , mentally torturing people who visit them. Proud in the righteous ness

    It’s fine if you want to believe certain things , but you don’t need to condem or active persue people, if you are right then, god will do that for you.

    just by the by , if it were up to me, i would extend hatespeech laws so you can’t hide behind freedom of religion anymore. It’s the hate preaching that causes the violence towards gays , atheists etc. take that deon mass incident? wtf happen? he wrote an article about the church of satan, not christianised satanism , but satanism, the article was approved by the editor etc. It wasn’t doing anything other than point out the difference and ask for understanding. But what was the reaction? holy fuck. He got fired not for the content of the article , he got fired because there was an article. hot the editor who approved it but the fucking writer. These kind of christains didnt care what was written or why, all they cared about was that there was something to hate. Which is as evil as any kind ‘christsinised satanism’

    hugo : how about being a little bit more dedicated/aggressive , like you were with the anti-theism? don’t you think you’re setting a double standard.

  • 269 Amanda // Feb 11, 2009 at 1:17 pm

    atheist:

    There shall be me.
    Thou shalt not mock.
    Thou shalt not have freedom of speech.

  • 270 gerhard // Feb 11, 2009 at 2:05 pm

    amanda:
    atheist: hey , talk all the hatespeech you want, just dont expect me to be happy about or you to help that ability along.

    hatemongering is setting up a starwman and passing it off as the reality to incite hatred. Its not even using a over gneralized template that hitchens useses against theism.
    I have been victimized by fundies in the past , so while i will respect your religion and your right to believe , that respect ends at things like that starts spilling onto others. You don’t have a right to expect to be allowed to do this.

    It puts you on the same level of respectablity as suicide bombers.

    I just don’t understand why you guys can act so evil and revel in rightious indignation at the same time.

  • 271 gerhard // Feb 11, 2009 at 2:16 pm

    hugo :

    Does your religion offer something other than a get-out-of-hell-free card? Meaning, suppose there was no hell-in-the-afterlife, what of real importance is left of your religion? Please motivate.

    which religion? does classical buddism count here? doesnt have a central god figure, or gods. I does have the teacher, buddah, but he isnt deified. he is a man , which is parting some words of wisdom on. His hero’s journey would be the important bit , as a king who became a beggar who became a priest who because a secular humanitarian :) To me the works symbolize the system, why alturism and discipline are important :) There is the here and now, to concern youself with and you want to be happy, and these are the paths that we can figure out that give you happyness.
    A way to deal with the absurdities of being a creature awakened in a world it finds difficult to understand. life is about living , so live.

    btw, you know what people in buddists counties call atheists or agnostics? aaahh freeman !!

  • 272 Kenneth Oberlander // Feb 11, 2009 at 2:25 pm

    Amanda:

    There shall be me.
    Thou shalt not mock.
    Thou shalt not have freedom of speech.

    That’s beneath you. You know as well as I that’s a strawman position.

    @Hugo
    I prefer sticking to:
    Atheism:
    I acknowledge the possibility that there is a god. I also acknowledge that there is no evidence for such a being, and consequently I lack a belief in god’s existence.

    That’s it. I think a lot of the stuff that you included in your soundbyte definition of atheism is not in fact derived from atheism at all. I would argue that it is derived from secular humanism.

  • 273 Ben-Jammin' // Feb 11, 2009 at 4:08 pm

    There shall be no other god before me, except me.

    I think it’s fairly easy to demonstrate my lack of any God-like attributes. :)

  • 274 gerhard // Feb 11, 2009 at 4:15 pm

    ben: aren’t we the creators ? *bait*

  • 275 Ben-Jammin' // Feb 11, 2009 at 5:21 pm

    ben: aren’t we the creators ? *bait*

    That one is going over my head.

    – Ben ( dense this morning.)

  • 276 gerhard // Feb 11, 2009 at 7:04 pm

    ben: creativeness is godlyness. one of the unique features that humans have is that we can create for sake of creation. We give order to chaos and give meaning. If we work together then there are no bounds but reality itself to what we can do. not godly enough?

  • 277 Ben-Jammin' // Feb 11, 2009 at 8:08 pm

    not godly enough?

    I’d say no, not enough. Theists themselves believe they create things just as you described and don’t consider themselves a God. A God’s abilities extend to being able to create something out of nothing, a violation of the conservation of energy. I am not able to do this. I can only create new arrangements of previously existing (stuff) without violating the conservation of energy.

    If I’m not taking you too literally in the first place…

  • 278 Hugo // Feb 12, 2009 at 2:26 am

    New Note 351

    Amanda #267 – pretty good! ;-) You’re right, things like “God is love”, “God is compassion” and “God is found in relationships” etc certainly features in my view of the world. And thanks for giving my question back to me, also excellent! I’ll have to do that when I have more time…

    gerhard #268, re mocking: sweet. ;-)

    Amanda: do you live by the golden rule, “do unto others as you would like them to do to you”? If not, ah, ok, never mind. However, If so, does that mean you want people to stereotype your religion? Or to mock your religion? Maybe, I’ve found Christians that like that, because it gives them the opportunity to “play the persecuted”… What do you think?

    Back to gerhard #268 (there’s much of your comment that I):

    hugo : how about being a little bit more dedicated/aggressive , like you were with the anti-theism? don’t you think you’re setting a double standard.

    Actually I don’t think I’m setting a double standard. And it’s a multi-faceted thing:

    Standards can change over time. I would handle the atheistic-fundies differently if I were to do it again, one strong reason: I simply don’t have the time. I’ve wasted too much time on such nonsense already. I’ve learned a lot in previous arguments with the “atheistic-fundies”. and won’t make the same mistake again. (Think, um, “dedicated”?) And last, but definitely not least, this blog has a particular focus and purpose, and the focus influences the way I can/should and can/should-not relate.

    Previously I was hoping I could get e.g. you to converse on a level/tone where better conversations can take place. And that attempt has proven an utter failure.

    @gerhard #271, sure! Any religion. My primary intention was to ask Amanda/Thomas, but I’d happily hear from any other as well. (Some Buddhists do deify Buddha? Some do get quite superstitious. I’d suggest it’s similar to there being more and less superstitious versions of Christianity.)

    @Kenneth, #272.

    I think a lot of the stuff that you included in your soundbyte definition of atheism is not in fact derived from atheism at all. I would argue that it is derived from secular humanism.

    Excellent point, completely valid. I’m talking about secular humanism, or about one kind of person that might describe themselves an “atheist”, rather than just a sound-byte definition of “atheist”, nothing more. You’re certainly welcome to have stated that much more strongly! (As much as I’d appreciate if certain other people used “I think… is not in fact… I would argue that…” more often, like you did here.)

    Let me have a go at another “being sure” then: I’m sure you’ll agree comparing a religion and atheism is like comparing apples and… um… a nail. As in, the thing you hammer into wood using a hammer. As in, well, something quite unrelated to an apple. How’s that? ;-)

    #273-#277: Now here’s where I really get curious! And keen to test out some of my ideas / suggestions, in practise. We’re talking here about “being creative creatures” and it possibly being considered “god-like”. Ben-Jammin’ takes issue with the idea, as he considers himself to not have any God-like attributes. Which may be perfectly correct, in the context of the God-of-the-philosophers, the idea of omniscient, omnipotence, omnipresent… (Omnibenevolent? Naah, that depends on which theology. Omnicognizant? Isn’t that a part of omniscient/-present?)

    What I’d really like to know is this:

    Amanda, ignore them for a second (I’m sure you can manage *grin*), and tell me what you meant with e.g. “There shall be no other god before me, except me.” (This connects with things I’ve been trying to explain/motivate in the past.) What does a Christian like you, or any kind of Christian, mean when they consider “an atheist is his or her own god”? Can you connect this with the definition of god used by Ben’Jammin, or is it another aspect/meaning/notion of “god” that you are referring to? Please describe that aspect? Thanks, I would much appreciate it.

    TODO(hugo): comment in-depth on #262, combine it with an answer to my own question (excellent counter-challenge!).
    Also: (maybe… still wondering about this one) explain my understanding of what a “worldly god” is. (This is in answer to #260, which I felt it’s probably best I don’t answer.)

  • 279 saneman // Feb 12, 2009 at 8:40 am

    @Ben:
    Does it specifically say that god created the heavens and the earth out of nothing or did he just shape existing energy?

  • 280 Thomas // Feb 12, 2009 at 9:40 am

    Hugo @ #261

    (Open question to whoever wants to tackle it):

    Does your religion offer something other than a get-out-of-hell-free card? Meaning, suppose there was no hell-in-the-afterlife, what of real importance is left of your religion? Please motivate.

    As a self-proclaimed follower of Jesus Christ, the Son of God and the only Saviour of the lost, you ought to know what your Master commanded you to do. Let’s look at some of the things He said.

    Joh 17:18 As thou hast sent me into the world, even so have I also sent them into the world.

    For what purpose was He sent into the world?

    Lu 19:10 For the Son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost.

    Now, anyone who claims to be His follower should also seek out the lost so that they may be saved. Saved from what – hell, the lake of Fire? To answer this, we need to understand the righteous wrath of God.

    Joh 3:36 He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him.

    I’m quite sure you know that the phrase “shall not see life” refers to eternal life in the presence of God. What then will the Christ-rejectors eventually see?

    Mt 25:41 Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels./blockquote>

    The everlasting Lake of Fire was not prepared for human beings but the devil and his angels. However, anyone who chooses to believe and follow the lies of the father of lies must also be willing to follow him into the Lake of Fire.

    what of real importance is left of your religion? Please motivate.

    The real importance of my religion is this:

    Therefore take no thought, saying, What shall we eat? or, What shall we drink? or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed? (For after all these things do the Gentiles seek:) for your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things. But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you. Take therefore no thought for the morrow: for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself.

    Please note, whoever does not seek God’s righteousness as expressed in Jesus Christ is not seeking His Kingdom and is definitely not advancing His Kingdom on earth. I can quote you many examples of missionaries, real followers of Christ, who not only proclaimed His Gospel but also helped whole tribes to enhance their lives. They built hospitals, introduced them to medicine, taught them to plant crops, taught them to read and write, helped them to obtain a scholarship etc. etc. etc.

    Hugo, are you a follower of the Christ portrayed above or are you a follower of another Christ?

  • 281 gerhard // Feb 12, 2009 at 10:22 am

    If I’m not taking you too literally in the first place…

    yes. you are.

  • 282 Hugo // Feb 12, 2009 at 10:26 am

    I’m quite sure you know that the phrase “shall not see life” refers to eternal life in the presence of God.

    Says who?

    You come at the Bible with a particular viewpoint, and you jump around picking one verse here, one verse there, and you say “See! *That* is who Jesus was!”

    It really should have been obvious by now that I don’t start with the same particular viewpoint.

    For what purpose was He sent into the world?

    Lu 19:10 For the Son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost.

    Now, anyone who claims to be His follower should also seek out the lost so that they may be saved.

    Which is exactly what I do, except I consider you to be one of the lost, for example.

    Saved from what – hell, the lake of Fire?

    No, saved from missing out on “having life, and life in abundance”.

    But some won’t listen, then I shake the dust off my feet and move on to the next town….

  • 283 Hugo // Feb 12, 2009 at 10:35 am

    Or in other words, yes, I am following a “different Jesus” than you are. Please take a quick look at this post: The Most Divisive Thing? (’cause humour’s cool.)

    So what is downright not helpful is quoting Jesus at me, quoting the Bible at me, to tell me how to “mend my ways”. One verse here, one verse there. If you’d like to talk about what I believe and why I believe it, that’s useful. If you want to hang around, you could make sure that when I write new blog posts that you feel would “mislead and deceive”, there’s always someone to “provide the *real* truth” (according to you) to warn everyone else, it might be possible to consider that “useful”.

    But with comments like your previous one, you’re pretty much just wasting time, unless you think there are people reading this thread of 300 comments that have not already made up their mind, chosen their “camp”.

    Keep that in mind?

  • 284 Amanda // Feb 12, 2009 at 10:52 am

    No, Hugo let us not ignore what these chaps are saying. I could help you out by providing you with a list of all the accusations made against me. Should we apply their standards both ways? If so we can start right here with the question you posed to Thomas and I:

    Does your religion offer something other than a get-out-of-hell-free card?

    You own this problem, Hugo. Deal with it.

  • 285 Kenneth Oberlander // Feb 12, 2009 at 11:20 am

    @Ben-Jammin:

    I think it’s fairly easy to demonstrate my lack of any God-like attributes.

    LOL! Me too.

    @saneman.

    Does it specifically say that god created the heavens and the earth out of nothing or did he just shape existing energy?

    I can’t remember the Biblical quote exactly, but I doubt it would reflect on such a (relatively) new concept as energy…it’s possible that newer intepretations have put this spin on it, but in terms of the original framers, I don’t think this was an option…

  • 286 Hugo // Feb 12, 2009 at 12:28 pm

    If so we can start right here with the question you posed to Thomas and I:

    Does your religion offer something other than a get-out-of-hell-free card?

    You own this problem, Hugo. Deal with it.

    I’m sorry, I don’t understand… what problem? What do I “own” here?

    It is a simple question, one I’m genuinely curious about. I asked a similar one at a creationism seminar. I asked if someone doesn’t believe in hell, whether the host’s religion has anything to offer such a person? He went with Pascal’s Wager (though he didn’t call it that, and hadn’t heard of “Pascal’s Wager” before): “if we both jump out of a plane, I might believe I’ll die, you might believe you won’t die, but wouldn’t you anyway want a parachute, just in case?” That answer basically said, to me, his religion is about escaping hell. Though if I could probe more, I’d probably have dug up something more.

    And you answered nicely with #262, thanks!

    This question remains, I’d like to hear another person’s take on it, because I’ve been the only one so far to argue a certain line/understanding:

    What I’d really like to know is this:

    Amanda, *snip*, please tell me what you meant with e.g. “There shall be no other god before me, except me.” (This connects with things I’ve been trying to explain/motivate in the past.) What does a Christian like you, or any kind of Christian, mean when they consider “an atheist is his or her own god”? Can you connect this with the definition of god used by Ben’Jammin, or is it another aspect/meaning/notion of “god” that you are referring to? Please describe that aspect? Thanks, I would much appreciate it.

    I.e.: we’d most likely end up arguing on the same side on this particular point.

    Oh, I was wrong in a previous comment:

    Which is exactly what I do, except I consider you to be one of the lost, for example.

    The Pharisees would not be considered “the lost”, and I do consider, from my perspective, fundie-theology to be closer to the Pharisees’, not “the lost”.

    I could help you out by providing you with a list of all the accusations made against me.

    Feel free, if you’d like to do that, it would be interesting. But I’m still most interested in the “meaning of ‘god'” question I asked above.

  • 287 Amanda // Feb 12, 2009 at 1:19 pm

    @Hugo

    Very well. Then their accusations and your approval of it will stand as a testimony to your hypocrisy. Since you are in total darkness, try and feel your way around this one:

    Does your religion offer something other than salvation from the wrath of God, purchased by the blood of the Lord Jesus Christ crucified for you a get-out-of-hell-free card?

  • 288 Kenneth Oberlander // Feb 12, 2009 at 1:46 pm

    Amanda:
    What accusations? What approval? I honestly don’t know what you are accusing Hugo of.

    Since you are in total darkness, try and feel your way around this one:

    Whoa! This came out of left field. Did you answer the question?

  • 289 Ben-Jammin' // Feb 12, 2009 at 10:48 pm

    @Ben:

    Does it specifically say that god created the heavens and the earth out of nothing or did he just shape existing energy?

    The dictionary and common usage just have God as ‘creator of the Universe.’ In practice, when I ask theists what they mean, they almost always talk about God creating out of nothing. Obviously, not everyone means it that way.

  • 290 saneman // Feb 13, 2009 at 10:43 am

    so theists make the leap that god created the universe out of nothing?

    but man can create as long as he has something to work with.

    doesn’t that put man on par with god?

    what with god some how also being burdened with human emotions(jealousy and so on..).

    Surely then if man evolved, and god has the same properties as man, then did god evolve?

  • 291 Ben-Jammin' // Feb 14, 2009 at 1:38 am

    @saneman:

    You have me thoroughly confused. People have the same properties as god? Presumably, you believe people exist. Which would mean you would be a polytheist, with 6.5 billion+ gods?

  • 292 Thomas // Feb 14, 2009 at 7:32 am

    Or in other words, yes, I am following a “different Jesus” than you are.

    Truly said with great conviction!

    So what is downright not helpful is quoting Jesus at me, quoting the Bible at me, to tell me how to “mend my ways”. One verse here, one verse there. If you’d like to talk about what I believe and why I believe it, that’s useful. If you want to hang around, you could make sure that when I write new blog posts that you feel would “mislead and deceive”, there’s always someone to “provide the *real* truth” (according to you) to warn everyone else, it might be possible to consider that “useful”.

    Nonetheless, you admit that I have quoted Jesus’ words at you straight from the Bible. Doesn’t your Jesus say the very same things? If not, what does he say? The Jesus I know and follow actually likened Himself to a chicken once, pleading with the wayward and lost in Jerusalem to gather themselves under his “wings” but they would not. They point-blankly refused and you are doing the very same thing. Why do you shun Him and His love for you with so much hatred? He only has the very best for you in mind and yet you shun Him and His Gospel. Being the young man that you are you should seek Him in in the days of your youth. You are quick and ready to show atheists their blunders but your view of Christ is much more dangerous. I call it “theistic atheism” because it is against Christ in a form of godliness (2 Tim 3:5).

    So, you have never quoted single passages from, say for instance, Shakespeare’s Hamlet? Perhaps you should in future quote the entire Hamlet to safeguard you from accusations such as “You come at Hamlet with a particular viewpoint, and you jump around picking one passage here, one passage there, and you say “See! *That* is who Hamlet was!” Your argument, to say the least, is one of the most frequently heard and absurd post modern arguments there is. If quoting certain passages from the Bible is so wrong, why then do your post modern heroes love to quote people like Marcus Borg, Leonard Sweet, Rob Bell, Matthew Fox, Thomas Merton, Pierre Teilhard de Chardin et al with so much gusto without ever being accused of being selective in their use of their quotes?

    You have given your readers a very “useful” way of how to discern between what is very useful and what is not, and that is NOT to believe anyone who quotes from the Bible outright but to check it out for yourself.

    I am not asking or telling you to “mend your ways.” I am asking and telling you to repent and to believe the Gospel of Jesus Christ so that you may be saved. This is the very last time I will be asking you to do so. There may be many more in the future. May you listen to them if not to me.

  • 293 saneman // Feb 14, 2009 at 9:15 am

    yeah if you want, we are all gods.

  • 294 Amanda // Feb 14, 2009 at 11:01 am

    @ Hugo

    You started with your blasphemous phrasing of the question. However, I gave you the benefit of the doubt and answered it as if it were a sincere inquiry. Also, recognizing that the question could be read as a tongue-in-the-cheek poke at the supposed emptiness of my faith, I responded by pointing to the real emptiness of other religions using satire.

    Gerhard responded to that with accusations using words like religious hate mongering, spreading false lies, ignorance, fear, inventing facts, absurd, faith confirmed from the pulpit, mentally torturing people, pride in righteousness, condemn, active pursue people. Please read carefully what he is advocating here and consider the implications:

    just by the by , if it were up to me, i would extend hatespeech laws so you can’t hide behind freedom of religion anymore.

    Gerhard continued with words like hatespeech, hatemongering to incite hatred, victimized and evil. He reinstates freedom of speech, freedom of religion and then retracts it. He is equating what I said to someone murdering people. Did you miss that one, Hugo?

    However, If so, does that mean you want people to stereotype your religion?

    You have already done that.

    Or to mock your religion?

    I am going to cause this to start? You are familiar with the piss christ, are you not?

    Maybe, I’ve found Christians that like that, because it gives them the opportunity to “play the persecuted”… What do you think?

    I think you are a hypocrite and a dhimmi. Nevertheless, I am truly grateful for the huge service that you have rendered to the church in this tread by exposing what christ followers actually believe and that they do support the call to the end of freedom of speech and religion. The plan is coming together nicely, is it not?

  • 295 gerhard // Feb 14, 2009 at 11:41 am

    ben: as a atheist or ‘non christain god believer’ you don’t have to limit yourself to the chrsitain definition of what a god is :) gods comes to many people in many shape, form and ability.

    my idea earlier was along the line of , that god is often seen as ‘the creator’ well, in a universe lacking monotheistic god, the creators , (at least so far) is us . Do you know anything else that creates for the sake of creation? Another thought i feel like exploring is a ‘virtual world/universe’, yes it is created out of something but to the inhabitants of that something is meaningless, undetectable and manipulatable unless you give them the knowledge there of then it doesn’t exist for them. It exists in another plane of existence but is as real as this one. It is merely a little bit more abstract. (think of the xkcd universal calculator / lonely guy playing with rocks.

    hugo : i will leave if you don’t take me off the moderation list. If you aren’t going to right now then don’t even bother letting this message though.

  • 296 Amanda // Feb 14, 2009 at 12:47 pm

    @Hugo

    There was a man who preached hatred and violence. There was another man who exposed the preaching of hatred and violence. Which one do you think is guilty of preaching hatred and violence? How do you explain the strange case of Geert Wilders?

    @ Kenneth Oberlander

    Muslims do indeed have the expectation, based on the quran, of having sex in paradise with virgins. I would not mock that. However, the idea of 72 virgins idea is used to recruit young men and boys to go on missions to murder people:

    Their rewards in paradise would include 72 virgins and eating from the fruits of paradise, he said. “Religious martyrs are not dead. Do not cry for them. There is a conspiracy against Jihad”, he added. “Democracy is not the way forward. The only way to liberate land and man is Jihad. “The way forward is the bullet. Our motto is `might is right’.”

    A 14-year-old Palestinian boy was apprehended wearing a bomb vest and he said:

    “Blowing myself up is the only chance I’ve got to have sex with 72 virgins in the Garden of Eden,” Abdu said his handlers had told him.

    Remember the Bali bombing that killed 202 People? The mastermind said he did not fear facing a firing squad.

    ‘It’s the key to paradise, everything will be very, very nice,’ he told Sydney radio station 2UE from his prison cell in remarks broadcast yesterday. He believed paradise held the promise of 72 virgins for single men, but only 23 if a man had been married on earth, as he has.

  • 297 Amanda // Feb 14, 2009 at 2:25 pm

    @ Kenneth Oberlander

    Here is a horrible cut and paste job. You can read the full article The Problem Of Evil by William Lane Craig after registering for free:

    We are not in a good position to assess the probability of whether God has morally sufficient reasons for the evils that occur… In order to achieve His ends, God may have to put up with certain evils along the way. Evils which appear pointless to us within our limited framework may be seen to have been justly permitted within God’s wider framework.

    The Christian faith entails doctrines that increase the probability of the co-existence of God and evil. In so doing, these doctrines decrease any improbability of God’s existence thought to issue from the existence of evil.

    The chief purpose of life is not happiness, but the knowledge of God. One reason that the problem of evil seems so puzzling is that we tend to think that if God exists, then His goal for human life is happiness in this world. God’s role is to provide comfortable environment for His human pets. But on the Christian view this is false. We are not God’s pets, and man’s end is not happiness in this world, but the knowledge of God, which will ultimately bring true and everlasting human fulfillment…Innocent human suffering provides an occasion for deeper dependency and trust in God, either on the part of the sufferer or those around him. Of course, whether God’s purpose is achieved through our suffering will depend on our response. Do we respond with anger and bitterness toward God, or do we turn to Him in faith for strength to endure?…

    Mankind is in a state of rebellion against God and His purpose. Rather than submit to and worship God, people rebel against God and go their own way and so find themselves alienated from God, morally guilty before Him, and groping in spiritual darkness, pursuing false gods of their own making. The terrible human evils in the world are testimony to man’s depravity in this state of spiritual alienation from God. The Christian is not surprised at the human evil in the world; on the contrary, he expects it. The Bible says that God has given mankind over to the sin it has chosen; He does not interfere to stop it, but lets human depravity run its course…

    But the problem is that objective values do exist, and deep down we all know it. There’s no more reason to deny the objective reality of moral values than the objective reality of the physical world. Actions like rape, cruelty, and child abuse aren’t just socially unacceptable behavior—they’re moral abominations. Some things are really wrong.

    Thus, paradoxically, evil actually serves to establish the existence of God. For if objective values cannot exist without God and objective values do exist—as is evident from the reality of evil—, then it follows inescapably that God exists. Thus, although evil in one sense calls into question God’s existence, in a more fundamental sense it demonstrates God’s existence, since evil could not exist without God.

  • 298 Hugo // Feb 14, 2009 at 2:31 pm

    Thomas:

    Why do you shun Him and His love for you with so much hatred?

    Why do you accuse me of shunning and hatred? Please don’t do that.

    What it means is I’m failing to communicate my views, or you are failing to understand them. The point I was trying to make: I *don’t* shun and hate his gospel, in fact I love it! But I have a different view of what Jesus’ gospel is than you do.

    And you can’t call me to adhere to your understanding of the gospel by using phrases chosen here and there…

    Your argument, to say the least, is one of the most frequently heard and absurd post modern arguments there is. If quoting certain passages from the Bible is so wrong

    I did not say it is wrong, I was trying to explain why it doesn’t have much effect on my view. My view was formed from a bigger-picture perspective. If and when I quote verses/phrases/bits here and there, it serves as an indication of what my bigger picture view is, it doesn’t serve to convince you to have the same view. Ditto for your quoting of verses in certain ways with certain understandings: it illustrates to me what you believe, and bits and pieces of why you believe it, but it doesn’t have any power to convince me.

    If I wanted to convince you of my view, I won’t throw you with small isolated quotes from here and there, I’d buy you a couple of books and have them delivered to your door. (Since we’re far apart.) Ideally I’d walk a path with you, give you only one book at a time, and have in-depth conversations to see how you understand/perceive that book, etc. It is a much longer process, and it can change me as much as it can change you.

    Could you do the same with me? I dunno, what would you have to offer me that would make sense to me *from my perspective*? Erwin McManus once gave us a sermon on “walking the streets of Athens”. I tried to share a bit about that here, but the point was really just about how we should walk in another’s culture to understand them, before we can have much hope of being able to communicate to them in their language, so that our message can make sense to them. And my point being: your message to me is not in my language, sorry.

    why then do your post modern heroes love to quote people like Marcus Borg, Leonard Sweet, Rob Bell, Matthew Fox, Thomas Merton, Pierre Teilhard de Chardin et al with so much gusto without ever being accused of being selective in their use of their quotes?

    Again the thing about “this is not an overall convincing argument, this is just tidbits explaining why I think/believe as I do”. So that’s what I learn from your quoting. And that’s what you can learn from mine. And it would be selective use of quotes, if you want the whole picture, get the book and read it, cover to cover.

    It’s Marcus Borg quote time! ;) From the first chapter of Reading the Bible Again for the First Time:

    “A further result: Christianity in the modern period became preoccupied with the dynamic of believing or not believing. For many people, believing “iffy” claims to be true became the central meaning of Christian faith. It is an odd notion – as if what God most wants from us is believing highly problematic statements to be factually true. And if one can’t believe them, then one doesn’t have faith and isn’t a Christian”

    So what can you learn from that? You can learn a bit about how I see things. You can have an idea planted in your mind like a mustard seed, and it might grow, it might not. But it isn’t a convincing argument, and it wasn’t meant to be. You can also possibly learn from that quote, or my talking about it, that if you were looking to see more about how I see things, so that you’d be able to better communicate with me, better witness to me, that the first chapter of that book would give you some idea of the different approaches of understanding the Bible.

    This is the very last time I will be asking you to do so.

    Thanks for the effort you went to, Thomas!

    BTW (addressing everyone): on first read of Thomas’ comment, I read a very negative tone into it. But I took a moment, and reread it with a positive attitude, taking him to be very sincere and just genuinely concerned for my well-being. I’m going to do the same with Amanda’s comments: it is usually possible to take things, especially written things, in a negative way, or in a positive way. Going for the latter just makes so much more sense, it avoids things escalating into a fist fight. I believe it’s probably more accurate as well, most of the time.

    You started with your blasphemous phrasing of the question.

    Ah, … ;) I was actually just about to ask if that phrasing bothered you very much. Even your comment:

    Does your religion offer something other than salvation from the wrath of God, purchased by the blood of the Lord Jesus Christ crucified for you a get-out-of-hell-free card?

    didn’t exactly drive the point home. The point of my phrasing was indeed to concisely express the sentiment as it is often shared by non-Christians. Even the phrase “salvation from the wrath of God, purchased by the blood of the Lord Jesus Christ crucified for you” reduces, for many, to: “but isn’t that basically just: we don’t have to go to hell?”

    I will be even more careful about how I phrase things in the future. How do you feel about the introduction to this blog post I came across the other day (and probably shared here already): How To *Actually* Talk To Atheists (If You’re Christian)? I have also shared, in Get the Good News Right, a piece that you would probably also consider blasphemous. A friend of mine actually took the written version of that piece to his Bible study group to discuss. And that’s the whole point of an item like that: it is to help you see how your religion is perceived by outsiders. The hope is that it helps people learn how not to present their ideas, and figure out what they believe that is different from the stereotype. In “Get the Good News Right”, is a video clip called “Kissing Hank’s Ass”. Your #262 answers as much the question “how is your religion different from the stereotype portrayed in ‘Kissing Hank’s Ass’?”, but “how is it different from a get-out-of-hell-free card?” is such a more concise version of the same question. ;)

    I’m sorry we’ve just been discussing the fallout all this time, rather than the actual useful bits you answered in #262.

    However, I gave you the benefit of the doubt and answered it as if it were a sincere inquiry.

    Thanks, that is what it was.

    Also, recognizing that the question could be read as a tongue-in-the-cheek poke at the supposed emptiness of my faith, I responded by pointing to the real emptiness of other religions using satire.

    That is unfortunate, because other religions aren’t as empty as you portray them to be. You haven’t lived in that religion… if you consider yourself qualified to stereotype and satirise them, it seems to me you effectively grant the other commenters here the right to stereotype and satirise your religion. (Which as I mentioned, wasn’t the point of my question. My point was to get *beyond* the stereotype.)

    Gerhard responded to that with accusations using words like religious hate mongering, spreading false lies, ignorance, fear, inventing facts, absurd, faith confirmed from the pulpit, mentally torturing people, pride in righteousness, condemn, active pursue people.

    gerhard pointed out how he perceives your rhetoric. Whether he is right or wrong, it should be useful to try to understand why he feels that way, why that is his perception. What in your words and way of communicating is it that seems, to gerhard, like hate mongering? Isn’t that something that is worth investigating? Worth discussing? Worth getting to the bottom of, because if you’re trying to reach people, you don’t want to come across as a hate monger?

    Please read carefully what he is advocating here and consider the implications:

    Yea, I read it, and I often disagree with gerhard.

    He reinstates freedom of speech, freedom of religion and then retracts it. He is equating what I said to someone murdering people. Did you miss that one, Hugo?

    No, I didn’t, I saw that. gerhard is like that, those are his thoughts, that’s what he likes sharing. And it certainly does frustrate me.

    However, If so, does that mean you want people to stereotype your religion?

    You have already done that.

    Oops? That certainly wasn’t my intention.

    You are familiar with the piss christ, are you not?

    No, sorry… what is that?

    … /me checks wikipedia.

    Heh, talk about controversy in art…!

    OK, so now I’m familiar, how does that connect to this discussion?

    I think you are a hypocrite and a dhimmi.

    I don’t want to be a hypocrite. What do you suggest I do to not come across as hypocritical? I’m sorry that I can’t figure it out for myself, because I don’t quite understand the way in which I’m hypocritical, but with your help, I can hopefully improve. (I’m serious.) I’m thinking of letting go of the “follower” label then, and be completely label-less. What I do, how I act, what I attempt to follow, need not be my label if it causes such impressions on other people.

    A dhimmi? You’re quite big on metaphors from Muslim culture, eh? ;)

    A dhimmi [...] is a non-Muslim subject of a state governed in accordance with sharia law.

    If I take it literally, sure, I’m a non-Muslim, but I’m not in a state governed by sharia law. If I take it more metaphorically, and take it in a “Christian equivalent”, I’m still not sure how it applies. I’m sorry I’m a bit slow on this, but I think I’m not the only one. We’d probably all need to know what you know in order to understand your references.

    Nevertheless, I am truly grateful for the huge service that you have rendered to the church in this tread by exposing what christ followers actually believe and that they do support the call to the end of freedom of speech and religion. The plan is coming together nicely, is it not?

    exposing what christ followers actually believe

    Not quite, I’m no stereotype, I don’t represent anyone else. I’ve pointed this out many times, to avoid precisely that: I’m certainly much worse than “Borg et al”, don’t judge them by me.

    and that they do support the call to the end of freedom of speech and religion

    Amanda, please, now you’re just bearing false witness… unless you can explain what you mean by that? When did I ever support a call to the end of freedom of speech and religion? C’mon! (I must be misunderstanding something. Because the only way I can make sense of this, is if I interpret it to mean you expect me to censor gerhard? Which seems to be a call to the end of freedom of speech, which would be hypocritical, so I’m sure I misunderstand what you’re advocating or claiming with that?)

    Please explain?

    Then lastly, I truly wish we could put all of this behind us, I’m practically begging you to express your understanding of what a “god” is, in the context of suggesting atheists are their own god. The reason I’m begging for this, is I’ve clashed with the “atheists” numerous times in the past about precisely that point, trying to explain that a “god” is something more than just “an omnipotent, omnipresent, omniscient being”. I’ve written at least five posts on the matter to try to encourage a wider understanding. For example, God as “Meaning Assigner” -> a “god” as that something that directs your life, points to right and wrong, etc. I take it that’s what you mean by “atheists are their own god”, in the sense that they don’t believe in a “higher power” that can dictate this.

    Could you confirm that for me? Or explain where I’ve got it a bit wrong? I *really* want to have more input on that aspect of a “god”, explicitly not with the intention to have an argument start about it, because we all know how atheists define “god” and what they mean when they say don’t believe in any gods, I just want us to explore more of “the other meanings understood under the concept of ‘a god’…”, in an attempt at cross-cultural understanding.

    There was a man who preached hatred and violence. There was another man who exposed the preaching of hatred and violence. Which one do you think is guilty of preaching hatred and violence? How do you explain the strange case of Geert Wilders?

    Yes, this is tricky. It isn’t always clear who is the preacher and who is the exposer in such cases. Intolerance of intolerance is also intolerance. And it frustrates me endlessly that e.g. saneman responds to intolerance with more intolerance, just raising the intolerance quota. But the philosophical trickiness of the debate on what kinds of intolerance should be tolerated, means I’m kinda stuck trying to convince anyone of any particular way of presenting themselves. (What I want on this blog, is the highest levels of tolerance, in order to promote discussions/conversations. But how do I encourage that, without ending up being intolerant myself, intolerant of intolerance? …)

  • 299 Hugo // Feb 14, 2009 at 2:34 pm

    gerhard:

    hugo : i will leave if you don’t take me off the moderation list. If you aren’t going to right now then don’t even bother letting this message though.

    Sorry gerhard, I can’t take you off a list you’re not on. You were close to reaching that list, but were not quite there yet. I would have announced when I put you on.

    Why you’re getting condemned to the moderation queue remains an absolute mystery to me though. I’d classify that as a WordPress bug. Nothing in the settings give me any indication as to why that would happen, baffling.

    Note that I also don’t respond well to ultimatums.

  • 300 Hugo // Feb 14, 2009 at 3:59 pm

    @Amanda re: objective evil…

    What I’ve pondered to some degree relatively recently, is the animal kingdom. Cats playing with mice, for one example, seems very cruel from a human perspective. Should the cat, or the cat’s behaviour, be considered to be “evil”?

    I’d like to hear your view on it, and I’m sharing mine in case you’d like to ask the same question of me:

    I don’t think so, from my perspective, but I do connect the behaviour to certain elements of “nature”, to “worldliness”, and thus it does also serve as warning, to me, about “worldliness” — we should *not* behave like cats, for we’ve been granted the gift/curse of knowledge of good and evil, we have a higher awareness, we have rationality, so for *us* I’d consider it a sin if we were to behave like cats.

    Beyond cats… ducks? I’ve heard in the Western Cape that some of the duck species that “shouldn’t be there” (what’s the word for that, Kenneth? “Indringer” in Afrikaans?) are raping the local ducks. Would such behaviour be considered evil, it being an example of rape in nature? Many more nasty examples of nature, with my thoughts from the previous paragraph applying to just about all of them.

    This “proof”-from-existence-of-morality is something popularised by CS Lewis in “Mere Christianity”. It is by no means a convincing proof, but I’ll leave that for Kenneth or someone else. What I’d just comment, is that it presupposes we all know right and wrong, and thus any proponent of this view can certainly no longer argue “atheists have no sense of morality”.

    That’s just a general comment, btw., not addressed to anyone here. I believe everyone here is happy to see atheists as having a sense of right/wrong, living moral lives, as the only argument present is about “accepting Jesus as your personal saviour”. Correct me if I’m wrong… this paragraph is merely intended to defend against a potential misunderstanding of the previous paragraph, to point out it wasn’t pointing fingers. (Was it necessary?)

  • 301 Ben-Jammin' // Feb 14, 2009 at 8:44 pm

    and I often disagree with gerhard.

    Ah, the art of understatement.

  • 302 Amanda // Feb 14, 2009 at 10:02 pm

    @Hugo

    I will be even more careful about how I phrase things in the future.

    if you consider yourself qualified to stereotype and satirise them, it seems to me you effectively grant the other commenters here the right to stereotype and satirise your religion.

    OK, so now I’m familiar, how does that connect to this discussion?

    No, I am not asking that you be more careful. The point is that you started the thread within the tread with blasphemy. Judge my very mild responses in light of that, instead of pretending that I have opened the floodgates of hate against Christianity as if it is not already there.

    When did I ever support a call to the end of freedom of speech and religion?

    Because the only way I can make sense of this, is if I interpret it to mean you expect me to censor gerhard?

    I don’t want to be a hypocrite. What do you suggest I do to not come across as hypocritical?

    No, I am not asking you to censor him. And if you banned somebody from your blog, I would not consider that to be an infringement of his freedom of speech either. As you friend, Dominee Cobus, so eloquently put it: on your blog you get to decide who is a jerk. I will also not consider an outrageous comment made by Gerhard, and left unchallenged, as somehow representing your personal beliefs. However, on this thread you consistently challenged Thomas, yet you casually overlooked Gerhard’s dangerous statements. Even when I pointed it out to you, you did not distance yourself from it. “I often disagree with gerhard” does not cut it.

    I hope that you do not censor him. He writes out loud what others are thinking. As such he is a valuable lesson to Christians who willing give up ground and, in so doing, leave the Gerhards in utter ignorance as to their true standing in front of the Lord.

    Hugo, you can be a hypocrite all you want! Don’t tear yourself to pieces trying to please everybody. I suspect that you are only blindly hypocritical towards Christians anyway, so it really should not worry you. As long as you know that it is very noticeable that you hold Thomas and I to a different standard of accountability than you do yourself and the others.

    I’m thinking of letting go of the “follower” label then, and be completely label-less. What I do, how I act, what I attempt to follow, need not be my label if it causes such impressions on other people.

    Not quite, I’m no stereotype, I don’t represent anyone else.

    I am sure you do not wish to harm anybody. My problem is that the christ followers have taken over my church by stealth. Although they might not agree with every single one of your views, they will recognize you as a brother. You have made it easier for me to identify and expose them. Thank you.

    I’m still not sure how it applies. I’m sorry I’m a bit slow on this, but I think I’m not the only one.

    You are a dhimmi when you promote the goals of islam by giving the impression with your warm remarks that it is completely benign. You have not read the quran, so you are working on the assumption that it is a religion, and not also an ideology, and as such it must be about love, peace and tolerance. It is not. It is about submission. Here is a hot-off-press article, not that long to read, that might start you to think that maybe you have been misled and that things are not as they seem. Raymond Ibrahim: Islam, War, and Deceit: A Synthesis (Part I). I did try to warn you off, Hugo.

    a “god” as that something that directs your life, points to right and wrong, etc. I take it that’s what you mean by “atheists are their own god”, in the sense that they don’t believe in a “higher power” that can dictate this.

    That seems pretty good, yes. But I don’t have the time to go into it.

    Yes, this is tricky. It isn’t always clear who is the preacher and who is the exposer in such cases. Intolerance of intolerance is also intolerance.

    Are you beginning to see that post-modernism has left you completely stuck in the mud, unable to judge right from wrong?

  • 303 Hugo // Feb 14, 2009 at 10:20 pm

    Amanda:

    However, on this thread you consistently challenged Thomas, yet you casually overlooked Gerhard’s dangerous statements.

    That’s mostly because I’m tired of fighting gerhard. We’ve been fighting for over a year now.

    Even when I pointed it out to you, you did not distance yourself from it. “I often disagree with gerhard” does not cut it.

    And how’s Ben’Jammin’s contribution about the dynamic between me(us) and gerhard:

    Ah, the art of understatement.

    I think I like understating things, maybe it’s one of my vices. ;)

    Yes, this is tricky. It isn’t always clear who is the preacher and who is the exposer in such cases. Intolerance of intolerance is also intolerance.

    Are you beginning to see that post-modernism has left you completely stuck in the mud, unable to judge right from wrong?

    No, I haven’t begun to see that. I think it doens’t have much to do with post-modernism either, rather, it is a testimony to the fact that humans can’t be God, we are unable to see the whole picture, we’ll never be perfect in our judgement, so it is better to be very, very careful when it comes to passing judgement.

    That’s all I see. I stand by my trickiness-of-intolerance message/belief.

    And thanks for the link, I’ve opened it in a tab, I will read it soon. Now I’m off to scavenge for food. ;-)

  • 304 Ben-Jammin' // Feb 15, 2009 at 1:28 am

    As such he is a valuable lesson to Christians who willing give up ground and, in so doing, leave the Gerhards in utter ignorance as to their true standing in front of the Lord.

    No one who has been exposed to Christianity for more than 5 minutes is in ‘ignorance’ on this point. Repeating the point does nothing to make it more persuasive. Do you really not understand this?

  • 305 Amanda // Feb 15, 2009 at 6:23 am

    @ Hugo

    BTW (addressing everyone): on first read of Thomas’ comment, I read a very negative tone into it. But I took a moment, and reread it with a positive attitude, taking him to be very sincere and just genuinely concerned for my well-being.

    Yes.

    Going to church today, Hugo? If so, pay close attention how the minister uses the Law: everything he says you must do and must not do. Does he cut right through your self-righteousness until you tremble at the word of God? Does he offer the sweet comfort of the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ who lived a perfect life for you and died for you? Does the minister preach about the Christ or the Christian life? Does he skip over the Christ of the Gospel and try to squeeze good works out of you? Do you leave church with a to do list or with a humbled and contrite heart, knowing that ‘it is done’?

    @ Thomas

    Ideally I’d walk a path with you, give you only one book at a time, and have in-depth conversations to see how you understand/perceive that book, etc.

    And it would be selective use of quotes, if you want the whole picture, get the book and read it, cover to cover.

    Give the man a Bible!

  • 306 Kenneth Oberlander // Feb 15, 2009 at 2:55 pm

    We are not in a good position to assess the probability of whether God has morally sufficient reasons for the evils that occur… In order to achieve His ends, God may have to put up with certain evils along the way.

    He might. But then he wouldn’t be omnipotent.

    Evils which appear pointless to us within our limited framework may be seen to have been justly permitted within God’s wider framework.

    So if god has allowed evil to exist for some ineffable, incomprehensible purpose, how can any of us judge whether he is in actual fact good? Not to mention, again, an omnipotent god can do anything.

    The Christian faith entails doctrines that increase the probability of the co-existence of God and evil. In so doing, these doctrines decrease any improbability of God’s existence thought to issue from the existence of evil.

    No, they don’t. If one of these concepts exists with the properties generally assigned to it, then the other cannot. This leads inevitably to the conclusion that god is either not all-good, all-powerful, or both.

    The chief purpose of life is not happiness, but the knowledge of God.

    This is an assumption. It is not supported by the evidence. Not to mention, which god would this be again?

    One reason that the problem of evil seems so puzzling is that we tend to think that if God exists, then His goal for human life is happiness in this world.

    No. The problem here is that the properties often assigned to god by his/her own believers are inconsistent. If god is the source of ultimate morality, and is also all-powerful, then the problem of evil is intransigent.

    But on the Christian view this is false. We are not God’s pets, and man’s end is not happiness in this world, but the knowledge of God, which will ultimately bring true and everlasting human fulfillment

    Hmmm…again, assumptions.

    …Innocent human suffering provides an occasion for deeper dependency and trust in God, either on the part of the sufferer or those around him.

    Assumptions…

    Of course, whether God’s purpose is achieved through our suffering will depend on our response. Do we respond with anger and bitterness toward God, or do we turn to Him in faith for strength to endure?…

    Or do we abandon the idea altogether? A god that answers our faith with a probability equivalent to random chance is, perhaps, worth abandoning?

    Mankind is in a state of rebellion against God and His purpose.

    More assumptions. How can he say this, considering his “We don’t know god’s will because he has some greater plan for all of us?” rhetoric of a few paragraphs back? He has effectively stated he doesn’t know god’s will, now he does. What gives?

    Rather than submit to and worship God, people rebel against God and go their own way and so find themselves alienated from God, morally guilty before Him, and groping in spiritual darkness, pursuing false gods of their own making.

    When your god is as effective as a cointoss, then I think this is justified.

    The terrible human evils in the world are testimony to man’s depravity in this state of spiritual alienation from God.

    Really. What about all the non-human evils in the world, the ones that we have no control over, but which (according to your doctrine) god does. There are enough natural disasters and innocent accidents which have no source in human evil.

    The Christian is not surprised at the human evil in the world;

    Neither does the atheist. Because it is human.

    on the contrary, he expects it. The Bible says that God has given mankind over to the sin it has chosen; He does not interfere to stop it, but lets human depravity run its course…

    Actually, no. According to your texts, only two people sinned. The entirety of their descendants, as well as the whole creation that god fashioned for them, was then punished. Seems a little excessive, methinks?

    But the problem is that objective values do exist, and deep down we all know it. There’s no more reason to deny the objective reality of moral values than the objective reality of the physical world. Actions like rape, cruelty, and child abuse aren’t just socially unacceptable behavior—they’re moral abominations. Some things are really wrong.

    I fully agree that there are moral values that most humans share. However, these are morals that humans created, some of which are built into our brains by our evolutionary history, others learnt over the millenia so as to enable us to co-exist with each other. But what does the objective reality of these aspects of our psyches have to do with god?

    Thus, paradoxically, evil actually serves to establish the existence of God. For if objective values cannot exist without God and objective values do exist—as is evident from the reality of evil—, then it follows inescapably that God exists.

    No, again, because there is no evidence for this first assumption. There is nothing to support the contention that morals of any sort are god-caused.

    Thus, although evil in one sense calls into question God’s existence, in a more fundamental sense it demonstrates God’s existence, since evil could not exist without God.

    By definition, wouldn’t this make god evil?

  • 307 Kenneth Oberlander // Feb 15, 2009 at 2:57 pm

    Sorry, that last magnum opus from my side was addressed to Amanda @ 297.

  • 308 Hugo // Feb 15, 2009 at 3:20 pm

    @Amanda, #305:

    Give the man a Bible!

    I forgot to mention the Bible again? Grrr. I had to rewrite that comment, having lost it.

    What I mentioned in my first version of it, if I forgot to mention it in the second: reading a book cover-to-cover, e.g. the books in the Bible, is indeed what I’d advocate, if it comes to changing e.g. my mind about it, rather than throwing isolated verses at me. And when you approach a book as a whole, that’s when your angle of approach plays a very significant role. (I expressed this better previously. Grrr!)

    I’m with RLP on this one: don’t approach the Bible cold, without some additional help from scholars, because we lack the knowledge of the context within which the language and the stories of the Bible find so much meaning.

    I have another question, hopefully I’ll phrase this one better than my previous one. Does your theology/religion make sense or carry weight, if the first 11 chapters of Genesis are read as mythological stories rather than historical ones?

    Mainline Christianity typically accepts their mythological nature, and find their value within that understanding. My follow-up question(s) would be:

    * If it isn’t important, then there’s really no need to take it literally, considering also how it clashes with the evidence. Would you be okay with your church taking an official stance on the mythological nature of Genesis?
    * If it *is* important, it opens up the discussion to questions about science and evidence. So I’d understand if you’d rather refrain from answering that question.

    When it comes to diversity in your church, that you are unhappy with, I’m afraid your only solution to that would be Yet Another Church Schism. As if more than 30 thousand denominations aren’t enough already. It’s certainly a very standard worldly thing to do, schisms. It’s like speciation… it’s the nature of diversity, in the absence of what I’d label ‘divine': the cooperation within the context of diversity, compassion and cooperation in spite of our differences.

  • 309 Ben-Jammin' // Feb 15, 2009 at 5:26 pm

    @Kenneth:

    This is an assumption. It is not supported by the evidence.

    What could count as evidence for (or against) a ‘chief purpose of life’? I’m at a loss on that one.

  • 310 Amanda // Feb 15, 2009 at 6:00 pm

    @ Kenneth Oberlander

    He might. But then he wouldn’t be omnipotent.

    How so? If God chooses to achieve His purposes this way, it does not follow that He is not omnipotent.

    So if god has allowed evil to exist for some ineffable, incomprehensible purpose, how can any of us judge whether he is in actual fact good?

    The existence of evil does not proof that God does not exist or that He is not good. Read His Word.

    No, they don’t. If one of these concepts exists with the properties generally assigned to it, then the other cannot. This leads inevitably to the conclusion that god is either not all-good, all-powerful, or both.

    The existence of evil does not proof that God does not exist. If God chooses to achieve His purposes this way, it does not follow that He is not omnipotent or bad.

    This is an assumption. It is not supported by the evidence. Not to mention, which god would this be again?

    From the article:

    The Christian faith entails doctrines that increase the probability of the co-existence of God and evil. In so doing, these doctrines decrease any improbability of God’s existence thought to issue from the existence of evil.
    a. The chief purpose of life is not happiness, but the knowledge of God.
    b. Mankind is in a state of rebellion against God and His purpose.
    c. The knowledge of God spills over into eternal life.
    d. The knowledge of God is an incommensurable good.

    Kenneth:

    If god is the source of ultimate morality, and is also all-powerful, then the problem of evil is intransigent.

    No, If God chooses to achieve His purposes this way, it does not follow that He is not moral or all-powerful.

    Hmmm…again, assumptions.
    Assumptions…

    Biblical doctrine.

    Or do we abandon the idea altogether? A god that answers our faith with a probability equivalent to random chance is, perhaps, worth abandoning?

    Mmm. Are you saying that God’s purpose should only be conversion and after that the believer should be granted ‘heaven on earth’ or God is not worthy of our faith?

    He has effectively stated he doesn’t know god’s will, now he does. What gives?

    We know God’s revealed will, but not the detail of how that is accomplished in individual lives: “Evils which appear pointless to us within our limited framework may be seen to have been justly permitted within God’s wider framework”

    god is as effective as a cointoss,

    Please explain?

    There are enough natural disasters and innocent accidents which have no source in human evil.

    It does not disprove the existence of God.

    From the article:

    The Christian is not surprised at the human evil in the world;

    Neither does the atheist. Because it is human.

    It does not disprove the existence of God.

    Actually, no. According to your texts, only two people sinned. The entirety of their descendants, as well as the whole creation that god fashioned for them, was then punished. Seems a little excessive, methinks?

    It does not disprove the existence of God. Kenneth, just a question. Do you refuse to submit to the Lord, because you judge Him to be morally and intellectually inferior to you?

    But what does the objective reality of these aspects of our psyches have to do with god?

    No, again, because there is no evidence for this first assumption. There is nothing to support the contention that morals of any sort are god-caused.

    Maybe you did not read the full article. Cut and paste distorted things:

    Like Ruse, I don’t see any reason to think that in the absence of God, the herd morality evolved by homo sapiens is objective. After all, if there is no God, then what’s so special about human beings? They’re just accidental by-products of nature which have evolved relatively recently on an infinitesimal speck of dust lost somewhere in a hostile and mindless universe and which are doomed to perish individually and collectively in a relatively short time. On the atheistic view, some action, say, rape, may not be socially advantageous and so in the course of human development has become taboo; but that does absolutely nothing to prove that rape is really wrong. On the atheistic view, there’s nothing really wrong with your raping someone. Thus, without God there is no absolute right and wrong which imposes itself on our conscience.

    From the article:

    Thus, although evil in one sense calls into question God’s existence, in a more fundamental sense it demonstrates God’s existence, since evil could not exist without God.

    By definition, wouldn’t this make god evil?

    No, he is saying evil demonstrates God’s existence. Article:

    But that takes us to the emotional problem of evil. I think that most people who reject God because of the evil in the world don’t really do so because of intellectual difficulties; rather it’s an emotional problem. They just don’t like a God who would permit them or others to suffer and therefore they want nothing to do with Him. Theirs is simply an atheism of rejection. Does the Christian faith have something to say to these people?

    It certainly does! For it tells us that God is not a distant Creator or impersonal ground of being, but a loving Father who shares our sufferings and hurts with us. Prof. Plantinga has written,

    As the Christian sees things, God does not stand idly by, coolly observing the suffering of His creatures. He enters into and shares our suffering. He endures the anguish of seeing his son, the second person of the Trinity, consigned to the bitterly cruel and shameful death of the cross. Christ was prepared to endure the agonies of hell itself . . . in order to overcome sin, and death, and the evils that afflict our world, and to confer on us a life more glorious that we can imagine. He was prepared to suffer on our behalf, to accept suffering of which we can form no conception.

    Kenneth, the existence of evil does not proof that God does not exist. As to His goodness: “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. (Joh 3:16-17) Jesus Christ died on the cross for you. He wants you let go of your self-righteousness and accept His righteousness. He knows your name. He knows your thoughts. And He will welcome you like a brother.

  • 311 Amanda // Feb 15, 2009 at 6:47 pm

    @ Hugo

    I’m with RLP on this one: don’t approach the Bible cold, without some additional help from scholars, because we lack the knowledge of the context within which the language and the stories of the Bible find so much meaning.

    Come on, now. When the ‘scholars’ deny the bodily Resurrection, then they are changing a basic Christian doctrine. You are looking for a less offensive Christianity and you have found ‘scholars’ to oblige you. Surely you can find more reliable scholars.

    Does your theology/religion make sense or carry weight, if the first 11 chapters of Genesis are read as mythological stories rather than historical ones?

    Nope. I believe Jesus Christ. He believed it really happened. Next?

    When it comes to diversity in your church, that you are unhappy with, I’m afraid your only solution to that would be Yet Another Church Schism.

    Yes! I have no problem with diversity in the flock, as long as they all are sheep. Goats are welcome to attend, off course, but the diet is not changed to suit their preferences, nor can they push the sheep around. And a wolf may never, ever be allowed to feed on the flock.

    the cooperation within the context of diversity, compassion and cooperation in spite of our differences.

    Okay, I am sure you did not mean to make me laugh. What Biblical grounds would a Christian have to unite with unbelievers in the church?

  • 312 Ben-Jammin' // Feb 15, 2009 at 6:56 pm

    @Amanda:

    On the atheistic view, some action, say, rape, may not be socially advantageous and so in the course of human development has become taboo; but that does absolutely nothing to prove that rape is really wrong. On the atheistic view, there’s nothing really wrong with your raping someone. Thus, without God there is no absolute right and wrong which imposes itself on our conscience.

    …Thus, although evil in one sense calls into question God’s existence, in a more fundamental sense it demonstrates God’s existence, since evil could not exist without God.

    This is what I mean by atheism diverging at such a basic level from theism. Or, in this case, an authoritarian understanding of morality is wholly different from a values-based understanding of morality.

    What you call ‘absolute’ right or wrong or ‘really’ right or wrong I don’t understand as right or wrong AT ALL. It’s just an arbitrary set of rules declared by an authority. To you, the determining factor in whether [x] is right or wrong is God’s (the authority’s) opinion. I could care less whether a God thought it was right or wrong or not.

    What I call right or wrong you don’t understand as right or wrong AT ALL. It’s all just subjective opinions held by mortal fallible beings. To me, the determining factor in whether [x] is right or wrong is the effects of [x] on the things we care about (what we value.) You could care less whether our opinion was that it was right or wrong or not.

    We don’t mean the same things by right or wrong or good or evil. Not even close. From my point of view, authoritarian morality is stuck in the first two stages of Kohlberg’s stages of moral development. From yours, I am rebelling against the authority that defines right and wrong in the first place.

    I don’t know that there is much way to communicate effectively across the divide. There’s a great article that I learned quite a bit from here. (It’s an Acrobat pdf.)

    When Morality Opposes Justice: Conservatives Have Moral Intuitions that Liberals may not Recognize

    Researchers in moral psychology and social justice have agreed that morality is about matters of harm, rights, and justice. On this definition of morality, conservative opposition to social justice programs appears to be immoral, and has been explained as a product of various non-moral processes such as system justification or social dominance orientation. In this article we argue that, from an anthropological perspective, the moral domain is usually much broader, encompassing many more aspects of social life and valuing institutions as much or more than individuals. We present theoretical and empirical reasons for believing that there are five psychological systems that provide the foundations
    for the worlds many moralities. The five foundations are psychological preparations for detecting and reacting emotionally to issues related to harm/care, fairness/reciprocity, ingroup/loyalty, authority/respect, and purity/sanctity.

    Political liberals have moral intuitions primarily based upon the first two foundations, and therefore misunderstand the moral motivations of political conservatives, who generally rely upon all five foundations.

    I understand more where conservatives are coming from when I read things like this. It doesn’t help me compromise or agree, necessarily, but it does help my empathy. Does it help you to understand the naturalist / liberal perspective at all? Or is it beyond the reaches of your imagination? (Many people’s perspectives are beyond my ability to imagine. I assume I’m not the only one with such limits.)

  • 313 Amanda // Feb 15, 2009 at 8:37 pm

    @ Ben-Jammin’

    To me, the determining factor in whether [x] is right or wrong is the effects of [x] on the things we care about (what we value.)

    Are you saying that you could break any of the following Commandments without your conscience accusing you of wrongdoing?

    “Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be long in the land that the LORD your God is giving you. “You shall not murder. “You shall not commit adultery. “You shall not steal. “You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor. “You shall not covet your neighbor’s house; you shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, or his male servant, or his female servant, or his ox, or his donkey, or anything that is your neighbor’s.” Exo 20:12-17

    So, theoretically at least, you could murder anybody that you do not value? I read part of your article, but it really is beyond the reaches of my imagination.

    Here is the link.

  • 314 Thomas // Feb 15, 2009 at 9:06 pm

    I’m with RLP on this one: don’t approach the Bible cold, without some additional help from scholars, because we lack the knowledge of the context within which the language and the stories of the Bible find so much meaning.

    What kind of knowledge and biblical contextual know-how do you need to understand John 3:16-20

    For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved. He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. For every one that doeth evil hateth the light, neither cometh to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved.

    Do you need to be a rocket scientist to understand Psalm 119:9?

    Wherewith shall a young man cleanse his way? By taking heed and keeping watch [on himself] according to Your word [conforming his life to it].

    Science is important but it cannot cleanse a young man’s or any other person’s way (moral inaptitudes).

    Hugo, you shouldn’t underestimate your intelligence that much. I sincerely believe you do not need any additional help from scholars to understand the Bible and its context. I have come to know you as the thinking kind, although you thinktoomuch sometimes.

  • 315 Hugo // Feb 15, 2009 at 9:07 pm

    I’m observing this discussion from the sidelines, finding it very interesting, not publishing a response I’ve written, as I don’t want to sidetrack this discussion.

    Weighing in with a quick hypothetical question… Amanda, picture a hypothetical universe wherein the Bible was exactly the same, with the exception that it explicitly encouraged the murder of unbelievers. You consider the Bible to be God’s Perfect and Infallible Word on what we should do and how we should live our lives. So, theoretically at least, in such a hypothetical universe, you would consider it “good” and “moral” to murder unbelievers, as God decreed it?

  • 316 Amanda // Feb 15, 2009 at 9:22 pm

    @Hugo

    Thinking again, are you?

    God is holy. God is just. God is love on all his planets. Next.

  • 317 Kari // Feb 15, 2009 at 9:39 pm

    Amanda, to a casual observer, the 10 Commandments does seem to have some glaring omissions. Why does it say nothing about rape or slavery, for example, whilst something fairly innocuous like coveting your neighbour’s donkey makes the list? You must admit that those laws were meant for a very different time, where rape was ok, as long as you then married the unfortunate woman, whether she wanted to or not.
    Morality has advanced (evolved if you will) a great deal since then and only relying on some ancient text as the authoritative moral code is definitely foolish.

    I read part of your article, but it really is beyond the reaches of my imagination.

    Steven Pinker explains this concept in a way that is much easier to understand (I think Hugo linked to this article originally.) It’s well worth the read.

  • 318 Kari // Feb 15, 2009 at 9:42 pm

    The link (html didn’t work for some reason)

    http://www.nytimes.com/2008/01/13/magazine/13Psychology-t.html?_r=1

  • 319 Ben-Jammin' // Feb 15, 2009 at 10:06 pm

    Are you saying that you could break any of the following Commandments without your conscience accusing you of wrongdoing?

    I am saying I will do what I think is right regardless of whether another commands it or not.

    “Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be long in the land that the LORD your God is giving you.

    I could definitely disobey that. Though I am very happy with my parents, there are plenty who do things that should not be honored by their children.

    “You shall not murder. “You shall not commit adultery. “You shall not steal. “You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.

    These I would consider wrong because I (and we, as a society) value life and honesty.

    Note the discrepancy already – on some I agree with the ‘commands’ and on some I don’t.

    “You shall not covet your neighbor’s house; you shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, or his male servant, or his female servant, or his ox, or his donkey, or anything that is your neighbor’s.”

    Coveting is thinking. Thinking is not wrong; what you do can be wrong or right. So, again, I can disobey this without any pangs of conscience.

    So, theoretically at least, you could murder anybody that you do not value?

    When taking it to the complete conclusion, yes. Just as you could murder anyone who God commanded you to; that is the lesson of Abraham and Isaac.

    Since I (and we, as a society) find almost all humans of value (possibly excepting someone pointing a gun at my family or some such) this is pretty simple.

  • 320 Hugo // Feb 15, 2009 at 10:18 pm

    Amanda, are you unable to think hypothetically? I’m so sad you took what looks from outside as the “chicken”-way out of the hypothetical. It connects to a useful skill in trying to empathise with others, in order to be able to better teach them the errors of their ways.

    Are things that are wrong, wrong because God commands it, or because you know them to be wrong “from inside”? From there, if others have a conviction, from inside, that “God is holy. God is just. God is love”, and causes them “incorrectly” believe something to be wrong/right, for example to be compassionate towards homosexuals and homosexual behaviour, how do you propose going about showing them the error of their ways?

  • 321 Ben-Jammin' // Feb 15, 2009 at 11:23 pm

    @Kari:

    That Steven Pinker article is awesome. Thanks for the link!

  • 322 Amanda // Feb 16, 2009 at 12:41 am

    @Ben-Jammin’

    These I would consider wrong because I (and we, as a society) value life and honesty.

    Then we honestly would not tolerate abortions and we should be able to leave our doors unlocked. If the God of the Bible were to judge you by the Ten Commandments, He would find you guilty and send you to hell. If you value life so much, why does that not concern you?

    Ben-Jammin':

    Coveting is thinking. Thinking is not wrong; what you do can be wrong or right. So, again, I can disobey this without any pangs of conscience.

    Jesus Christ disagrees:

    And he said, “What comes out of a person is what defiles him. For from within, out of the heart of man, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, coveting, wickedness, deceit, sensuality, envy, slander, pride, foolishness. All these evil things come from within, and they defile a person.” (Mar 7:20-23)

    Just as you could murder anyone who God commanded you to; that is the lesson of Abraham and Isaac.

    Really?

    By faith Abraham, when he was tested, offered up Isaac, and he who had received the promises was in the act of offering up his only son, of whom it was said, “Through Isaac shall your offspring be named.” He considered that God was able even to raise him from the dead, from which, figuratively speaking, he did receive him back. (Heb 11:17-19)

    @Hugo

    Are things that are wrong, wrong because God commands it, or because you know them to be wrong “from inside”? From there, if others have a conviction, from inside, that “God is holy. God is just. God is love”, and causes them “incorrectly” believe something to be wrong/right, for example to be compassionate towards homosexuals and homosexual behaviour, how do you propose going about showing them the error of their ways?

    God gave you His Word. You should believe that and not your passions. Sinners do not need compassion for their sinful behaviour. They need to repent and to belief the Gospel so that they can be saved from the wrath of God.

    For this reason God gave them up to dishonorable passions. For their women exchanged natural relations for those that are contrary to nature; and the men likewise gave up natural relations with women and were consumed with passion for one another, men committing shameless acts with men and receiving in themselves the due penalty for their error. And since they did not see fit to acknowledge God, God gave them up to a debased mind to do what ought not to be done. They were filled with all manner of unrighteousness, evil, covetousness, malice. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, maliciousness. They are gossips, slanderers, haters of God, insolent, haughty, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, foolish, faithless, heartless, ruthless. Though they know God’s decree that those who practice such things deserve to die, they not only do them but give approval to those who practice them. (Rom 1:26-32)

    @Kari

    Morality has advanced (evolved if you will) a great deal since then and only relying on some ancient text as the authoritative moral code is definitely foolish.

    If you reject the Gospel, that Jesus Christ died on the cross for your sins, even those secret sinful thoughts, then the whole Bible would seem pointless and foolish to you. You can hold yourself to any moral code you like and it would not save you. People are still sinful. In fact:

    But understand this, that in the last days there will come times of difficulty. For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, heartless, unappeasable, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not loving good, treacherous, reckless, swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having the appearance of godliness, but denying its power. Avoid such people.
    (2Ti 3:1-5)

  • 323 Ben-Jammin' // Feb 16, 2009 at 2:19 am

    Then we honestly would not tolerate abortions

    Sure we could. There is considerable debate about what we should consider the beginning of an independent human life.

    and we should be able to leave our doors unlocked.

    Ummm….what? We all know we cannot leave our doors unlocked. There are dissenters from every moral system I can imagine.

    If the God of the Bible were to judge you by the Ten Commandments, He would find you guilty and send you to hell.

    I don’t care.

    Pick a character you consider fictional. If I relay a threat from this character to you, do you feel threatened? Probably not, right?

    Jesus Christ disagrees:

    I don’t care if Jesus Christ, Daniel Dennett, Hugo, my mother, or my wife disagrees. I only care why they disagree. If they can make a compelling case, I’ll change my mind.

    Really?

    Yes, really.

    The relevant portions of Genesis 22:

    Some time later God tested Abraham…God said, “Take your son, your only son, Isaac, whom you love, and go to the region of Moriah. Sacrifice him there as a burnt offering…

    When they reached the place God had told him about, Abraham built an altar there and arranged the wood on it. He bound his son Isaac and laid him on the altar, on top of the wood. Then he reached out his hand and took the knife to slay his son.

    But the angel of the LORD called out to him from heaven, “Abraham! Abraham! Now I know that you fear God, because you have not withheld from me your son, your only son.

    In being willing to follow God’s commands – even to murder his own son – Abraham passed God’s test of faith. Most Christian denominations teach that Abraham acted correctly. If God orders you to do something, you do it. You do not disobey, even if it is something you might otherwise consider VERY immoral.

  • 324 Amanda // Feb 16, 2009 at 8:25 am

    @Ben-Jammin’

    Sure we could. There is considerable debate about what we should consider the beginning of an independent human life.

    Independent?

    If they can make a compelling case, I’ll change my mind.

    No, you deny God and accuse Him of not making a ‘compelling’ case. The Bible says:

    For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth. For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse. For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened. (Rom 1:18-21)

    Abraham passed God’s test of faith.

    Yes. It was a test of Abraham’s faith in God’s promise that through Isaac, Abraham will become the father of many nations and he believed that God would keep His promise.

    There will be a day of judgement and you are included.

    And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Then another book was opened, which is the book of life. And the dead were judged by what was written in the books, according to what they had done. And the sea gave up the dead who were in it, Death and Hades gave up the dead who were in them, and they were judged, each one of them, according to what they had done. (Rev 20:12-13)

  • 325 Thomas // Feb 16, 2009 at 9:27 am

    Amanda, to a casual observer, the 10 Commandments does seem to have some glaring omissions. Why does it say nothing about rape or slavery, for example, whilst something fairly innocuous like coveting your neighbour’s donkey makes the list? You must admit that those laws were meant for a very different time, where rape was ok, as long as you then married the unfortunate woman, whether she wanted to or not.

    Would you care to be more specific and refer us to the passage/s in Scripture where rape is mentioned? In that way we may look at it in context of the place and time where and when it took place. Man has always been wiser than the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, thinking he can improve on the Ten Commandments. No doubt, rape is an horrendous thing but so is abortion which is also glaringly amiss in the Ten Commandments.

    You are glaringly missing the true meaning of the Ten Commandments. Had it been God’s purpose to include every conceivable sin in His commandments, every known encyclopedia (including the well-known Britannica) would not have been able to contain them. In stead God emphasizes the origin of all sin – i.e. coveting. Every sin, no matter how small or big, starts in a heart that covets – “I want,” “I shal have,” and no one, not even God, is going to prevent me from taking what I want.”

    In essence the Ten Commandments are like a mirror with the purpose of revealing to man his shortcomings. In fact, if you break just one of His commandments you have broken them all. And that is precisely why God needed to send His Son into the world – fulfill His commandments so that you and I may be set free from the righteous judgments of God.

    Don’t allow “your neigbours donkey” to fool you into thinking that you can only apply that law to the time in which it was given. The donkey is not the problem but man’s propenssity to covet. Replacing “donkey” with “Ferrari” or even “Volkswagen” does not change the meaning of “coveting.”

  • 326 Hugo // Feb 16, 2009 at 9:58 am

    Amanda (and Thomas), I’m curious, how long have you been a “real” Christian? Was it from before you can think, were you raised faithful to the “fundamentals of your faith” from birth / baptism, or was there a time when you were not a Christian, or something of a “moderate”? And how about your parents and grand-parents? Were they ever “moderates”, that you know of, or were they also faithfully committed to the fundamentals as long as you (or they) can remember?

    Ben’Jammin, I don’t seem to detect even the slightest hint of desire from them for gaining some measure of understanding of how we think. Not the slightest. If you cared about such things, I’d emphasize that that’s not “the Jesus I know”. ;)

  • 327 gerhard // Feb 16, 2009 at 10:12 am

    hugo : can’t u start a new thread for this convo , it’s eating my cap.

  • 328 Thomas // Feb 16, 2009 at 10:48 am

    Hi Hugo,

    I will happily present you with my testimony of how I became a real Christian. Unfortunately I don’t have the time right now and will only be able to answer your questions later.

  • 329 Amanda // Feb 16, 2009 at 10:55 am

    @Hugo

    I was raised Christian. My forefathers regained the glorious Gospel during the Reformation and we have clung to it ever since. There was a time that I did not understand that Jesus Christ has done everything perfectly for me and that He left nothing undone. I understood that He was good and that I should be good. But my constant sinning and lack of ‘good works’ drove me to search the Scripture. If anything was left up to me, I would still be lost, but it is not. He has done it all and He has done it well.

    Ben’Jammin, I don’t seem to detect even the slightest hint of desire from them for gaining some measure of understanding of how we think.

    I understand that your are still in the Garden of Eden:

    Did God actually say…?

    But the serpent said to the woman, “You will not surely die. For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate, and she also gave some to her husband who was with her, and he ate. (Gen 3:4-6)

    If there is no God, then there is no reason why you should not help evolution along by killing off the undesirables, the sick, the elderly, the unwanted, the unborn, the handicapped and the inferior. Why would you allow them to drain the earth’s resources and jeopardise the survival of the fittest?

  • 330 Kenneth Oberlander // Feb 16, 2009 at 12:42 pm

    @Amanda.

    How so? If God chooses to achieve His purposes this way, it does not follow that He is not omnipotent.

    Agreed. But then he wouldn’t be benevolent.

    The existence of evil does not proof that God does not exist or that He is not good. Read His Word.

    Yes, it does. Go and read the problem of evil. From first principles. Tell me where the logic fails.

    Biblical doctrine.

    Simply being Biblical doctrine does not automatically exclude it from being an assumption.

    Mmm. Are you saying that God’s purpose should only be conversion and after that the believer should be granted ‘heaven on earth’ or God is not worthy of our faith?

    No. I’m saying a god that is equivalent to random chance is random chance.

    We know God’s revealed will, but not the detail of how that is accomplished in individual lives: “Evils which appear pointless to us within our limited framework may be seen to have been justly permitted within God’s wider framework”

    Which I answered. How can we know god is good if we can’t know his “wider framework”?

    It does not disprove the existence of God.

    Why not?

    Neither does the atheist. Because it is human.

    It does not disprove the existence of God.

    This isn’t my point here. My point here was to show that this argument is irrelevant to the problem of evil.

    It does not disprove the existence of God.

    re Genesis: agreed. But the inconsistencies do drastically decrease the chances of Genesis being correct. Coupled with other evidence, this does convincingly refute the literal truth of the creation story of the Bible. Which means the Bible isn’t literally true. Which means we need to choose for ourselves those bits that are literally true, and those that aren’t.

    Kenneth, just a question. Do you refuse to submit to the Lord, because you judge Him to be morally and intellectually inferior to you?

    No! This isn’t a case of submission or refusal, it is a case of no evidence supporting the hypothesis of a god.

    Maybe you did not read the full article. Cut and paste distorted things:

    You are right. I only addressed the points you cut and pasted. Apologies.

    Like Ruse, I don’t see any reason to think that in the absence of God, the herd morality evolved by homo sapiens is objective.

    This is an argument from ignorance. Just because one can’t think of a way it might be true, doesn’t mean it isn’t.

    After all, if there is no God, then what’s so special about human beings?

    We aren’t special, if by special you mean chosen out to be the sum purpose of the universe. We are special, if by special you mean the only known organism capable of rational thought, the only organism capable of attempting to understand the universe in which we are borne.

    They’re just accidental by-products of nature which have evolved relatively recently on an infinitesimal speck of dust lost somewhere in a hostile and mindless universe and which are doomed to perish individually and collectively in a relatively short time.

    Mindless? Yes. Mentality is a property of the mind. Hostile? No. The universe can’t be hostile to us, because it has no mind with which to be hostile. I would argue that even indifferent doesn’t work as a correct descriptor, because even indifference is a property of the mind. Anthropomophism is a real problem!

    On the atheistic view, some action, say, rape, may not be socially advantageous and so in the course of human development has become taboo; but that does absolutely nothing to prove that rape is really wrong.

    What? So many things wrong here…
    Perhaps the most egregious is simply this. There is no universal morality field that saturates space and time. There are no goodness particles and conversely, no badness antiparticles. There is absolutely no universal objective morality, simply because the universe doesn’t think. In terms of human morality, yes, there are certain near-universals. Incest is one such. But human morality differs both geographically and temporally. Rape, sadly enough, was certainly acceptable to many ancient civilizations. To me, rape is wrong. To most civilised people today, rape is wrong. But this is, unfortunately, a relatively new development. To stipulate that rape is wrong because some unbreakable gold standard of rightness/wrongness says so, is incorrect. It is an admirable recent addition to humanity’s moral systems that hopefully will be retained in the future.

    On the atheistic view, there’s nothing really wrong with your raping someone.

    This really exasperates me. This sentence is absolute bullshit. I’m an atheist, and I have damn good, and moral, reasons not to rape. This is a strawman bordering on a lie, and an insulting one to boot. Why doesn’t the author of this piece actually find out what atheists really think before spouting nonsense like this?

    Thus, without God there is no absolute right and wrong which imposes itself on our conscience.

    Again, the logic is false because human morality isn’t absolute. It can, and has, evolved. Certain aspects remain (near) universal, others haven’t.

    They just don’t like a God who would permit them or others to suffer and therefore they want nothing to do with Him.

    No. Although I agree that a god that would permit his creations to suffer isn’t worth much, it is the logical aspect to the problem of evil that is convincing to me. If you want to persuade me on this, find a logical problem to the premises of the argument. Projection such as the above quote is not an acceptable argument.

    Theirs is simply an atheism of rejection.

    I cannot speak for other atheists, but for myself, simply objective evidence for the existence of a god, any god, would be good enough for me. To me, the god hypothesis is still a possibility. It just happens to be one which is extremely unlikely.

    It certainly does! For it tells us that God is not a distant Creator or impersonal ground of being, but a loving Father who shares our sufferings and hurts with us.

    This errs under the premise that a god exists. This assumption requires evidence.

    As the Christian sees things, God does not stand idly by, coolly observing the suffering of His creatures. He enters into and shares our suffering. He endures the anguish of seeing his son, the second person of the Trinity, consigned to the bitterly cruel and shameful death of the cross. Christ was prepared to endure the agonies of hell itself . . . in order to overcome sin, and death, and the evils that afflict our world, and to confer on us a life more glorious that we can imagine. He was prepared to suffer on our behalf, to accept suffering of which we can form no conception.

    Let’s see. An eternal, omnipotent, omnibenevolent god spent three 24-hour periods of that eternity in a hell assuming the (admittedly large to us, but nevertheless punily finite in comparison to himself) burden of humanity’s sins. A hell he created. For children he created. He spent three days there, which for him, is peanuts. But for his mortal children…

    Kenneth, the existence of evil does not proof that God does not exist.

    Agreed. It does disprove, convincingly, a god with the attributes commonly assigned to him. Please show me where the logic fails. Either disagree with one of the premises of the argument, or show an error in the logic itself.

    As to His goodness: “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. (Joh 3:16-17) Jesus Christ died on the cross for you.

    Not exactly much of a burden for him, now, is it? See four paras up.

    He wants you let go of your self-righteousness and accept His righteousness. He knows your name. He knows your thoughts. And He will welcome you like a brother.

    Firstly, I see little evidence of my self-righteousness. Simply because I disagree with you doesn’t make me so.
    Secondly. I’m afraid emotional talk such as the above isn’t a logical argument. It is powerful, perhaps emotionally stirring, but an argument from emotion is nevertheless a logical fallacy.

  • 331 Kenneth Oberlander // Feb 16, 2009 at 12:47 pm

    @Kari, Ben-Jammin

    I’m reading Steven Pinker right now. The Stuff of Thought. Good, er, stuff.

    @Hugo.
    I agree with gerhard. Is it possible to make a new thread? Having to scroll up and down through so many posts takes more time than replying to them!

  • 332 gerhard // Feb 16, 2009 at 3:31 pm

    ken: yeah, stuff of thought was good , really good :) have you watched the ‘a brief history of violence’ when he was at ted?
    I really embarrassed myself when i met him, he was giving a lecture at stellies and i went up to him afterwards grabbed his hand which i profusely shook saying “hi, let me welcome you to South Africa, please come again” *with a very desperate look in my eyes* which was met with a very very startled and worried look.

    Seriously, i felt like a school kid meeting their rugby hero :P So not the kind of first impression i wanted to leave with him.

  • 333 Kenneth Oberlander // Feb 16, 2009 at 4:12 pm

    @gerhard
    I really didn’t even know he has visited SA! What a pity. I would have loved to have seen a talk of his.

    Word through the grapevine is Dan Dennett is coming to SA, though. That should be fun to go to…

  • 334 Ben-Jammin' // Feb 16, 2009 at 4:26 pm

    @Hugo:

    Ben’Jammin, I don’t seem to detect even the slightest hint of desire from them for gaining some measure of understanding of how we think. Not the slightest.

    That’s the beauty of the concept of hell. The fear can prevent even thinking about being wrong. (At work, I get some ribbing for being the ‘out’ atheist. One of the Catholics told me he was honestly afraid to even consider such questions.)

    How many fingers am I holding up, Winston?

    @Amanda:

    If there is no God, then there is no reason why you should not help evolution along by killing off the undesirables, the sick, the elderly, the unwanted, the unborn, the handicapped and the inferior. Why would you allow them to drain the earth’s resources and jeopardise the survival of the fittest?

    Why do people only make this argument with evolution? If there is no God, should I also knock down trees and push people off cliffs to help gravity along? Should I neutralize electrical charges wherever I find them to help electromagnetism along?

    I don’t want to knock everything over, neutralize electrical charges, or kill off certain people. Generally speaking, I want health and happiness for sentient beings.

    I don’t have an authoritarian sense of morality. If there is no God as an authority, I do not substitute evolution as an authority.

  • 335 Kenneth Oberlander // Feb 16, 2009 at 6:12 pm

    @Amanda

    If there is no God, then there is no reason why you should not help evolution along by killing off the undesirables, the sick, the elderly, the unwanted, the unborn, the handicapped and the inferior. Why would you allow them to drain the earth’s resources and jeopardise the survival of the fittest?

    OK. This is a misunderstanding of what evolutionary theory says. For one thing, nature isn’t just red in tooth and claw. Competition is just one way to increase your fitness. What a lot of people forget, or are ignorant of, is that co-operation is also an undeniably effective way of increasing your fitness. There is an immense literature on the evolution of altruism out there. For one thing, it increases the chances of survival of your close kin, who carry your genes. For another, if you can trust someone to reciprocate your good deeds, then both of you win in the long run. Thus altruism has been shown to be an evolutionarily stable outcome, both by models of kin selection, and by game theory. More importantly, it is supported by huge amounts of evidence.

    So this is a non-question. It assumes that morality come from god. We have no evidence to show that it does. We have abundant evidence to show that empathy, compassion, co-operation, and altruism are evolutionarily favoured traits within the context of a social primate such as ourselves.

    Ben raises another very good point. The only major sticking point most theists have with modern science is evolution. Why don’t fundamentalists have such serious objections to general relativity, or quantum physics? But all three theories are outgrowths of the same, rigorously applied scientific method. If fundamentalist viewpoints can’t accept evolution, then strictly speaking they should also not accept the other two theories. Which means they should be objecting to the use of computers, the Internet, GPS etc. etc., as well as to antibiotics, virtually all food, pets and gardens…the list goes on.

    @Ben-Jammin

    That’s the beauty of the concept of hell. The fear can prevent even thinking about being wrong.

    Those memes are pretty darn good replicators, I tells ya!

  • 336 Ben-Jammin' // Feb 16, 2009 at 6:23 pm

    @Kenneth:

    Until one of us gets Amanda to see the concept of a non-authoritarian morality, arguing about what is right or wrong and why is pointless. I’m not sure you’ve gotten the concept of an authoritarian morality, either, though.

    Authoritarian morality – asking for further and further justification leads you to, at the impossible to justify root, accepting an authority’s system of right and wrong.

    Values-based morality – asking for further and further justification leads you to, at the impossible to justify root, accepting a root value of empathy as a starting point for developing systems of right and wrong.

  • 337 Kenneth Oberlander // Feb 16, 2009 at 7:46 pm

    @Ben

    Until one of us gets Amanda to see the concept of a non-authoritarian morality, arguing about what is right or wrong and why is pointless.

    Hmmm…Amanda, can you conceive of a non-authoritarian morality? If not, why?

    I’m not sure you’ve gotten the concept of an authoritarian morality, either, though.

    I’d like to know why you think so. I am pretty familiar with the idea, but perhaps this is not evident from my posts. Do you mean how I deal with those who advocate this particular mindset?

  • 338 Amanda // Feb 16, 2009 at 8:49 pm

    @ Kenneth Oberlander

    No! This isn’t a case of submission or refusal, it is a case of no evidence supporting the hypothesis of a god.

    I dunno. The God of the Bible has given me enough evidence to come to have faith in Him and to love Him and to serve Him. I impatiently mark off the signs of the end times, longing for the day that Jesus Christ will return, hoping it will be today. He has accomplished His purpose with me.

    You are saying the God of the Bible should have given more evidence of His existence and because He has not, He cannot be true? What proof would you consider to be compelling enough for you to have faith in Him, to believe and trust in His Word, to love Him, more than you love yourself, to be prepared to live for Him and to die to yourself?

    You agree that the existence of evil does not disprove the existence of God. Are you saying that the existence of evil proofs that God must be bad? Is this not also an argument from ignorance?

    Again, the logic is false because human morality isn’t absolute. It can, and has, evolved. Certain aspects remain (near) universal, others haven’t.

    Right. So absolute evil cannot exist.

    I agree that a god that would permit his creations to suffer isn’t worth much

    Unless He uses the suffering to achieve His good and gracious will.

    Firstly, I see little evidence of my self-righteousness. Simply because I disagree with you doesn’t make me so. Secondly. I’m afraid emotional talk such as the above isn’t a logical argument. It is powerful, perhaps emotionally stirring, but an argument from emotion is nevertheless a logical fallacy.

    Sorry.

  • 339 Ben-Jammin' // Feb 16, 2009 at 8:57 pm

    I’d like to know why you think so. I am pretty familiar with the idea, but perhaps this is not evident from my posts. Do you mean how I deal with those who advocate this particular mindset?

    Yes. There’s not much point in two people with different understandings of what the + symbol means arguing about the correct answer to 2+2.

    I do suck at mind-reading, though, so it could just be the way I’m reading things today…

  • 340 Hugo // Feb 17, 2009 at 12:27 am

    Sorry guys&gals, hang in there one more day. I’ll get a new thread in place tomorrow evening. I hope.

  • 341 gerhard // Feb 17, 2009 at 3:31 pm

    ken : Cool! Dan Dennett!!!! Can’t wait for it. PLEASE let me know the details if u get them :)

    @amanda

    If there is no God, then there is no reason why you should not help evolution along by killing off the undesirables, the sick, the elderly, the unwanted, the unborn, the handicapped and the inferior. Why would you allow them to drain the earth’s resources and jeopardizes the survival of the fittes?

    I think you mixed up darwinism and social darwinism :) Do you know of a utilitarian thinker called peter singer?(i’d expect you to know of him) I think the operative word is sentience. May i ask why you’d equate a belief in natural selection to people wanting to carry out selection? Contradictory mutually exclusive concepts no?

    maybe i should rephrase your question:
    if there is a god , then there is no reason why you should not go helping god along by killing off the undesirables (non believers , those evil muslims that you mentioned etc), the sick (gays apparently) ….Why would you allow them to poison the god’s resources and jeopardizes the soul of the willing? Why not repeat the last couple of thousand of years worth of religious oppression, destruction and torture in god x’s name? hey , i mean , come on , you guys obviously failed the last couple of times you tried, surely at some point you guys will figure out how to do it properly. (after all now you have that christain, hitler as template to follow, apparently he was quite good at ad hominem’ )

    like the Muslim extremist , it is your duty and divine right.

  • 342 Kenneth Oberlander // Feb 17, 2009 at 5:05 pm

    @Amanda

    The God of the Bible has given me enough evidence to come to have faith in Him and to love Him and to serve Him.

    What is this evidence?

    You are saying the God of the Bible should have given more evidence of His existence and because He has not, He cannot be true?

    OK, this needs some explanation.

    I’m pretty sure you’ll agree with me that human beings are capable of imagining a tremendous, some might say infinite, number of different things. I also think you will agree with me that many, if not most, of those things do not correspond to reality. Think of fantasy/scifi books or shows, for example. In order for us to determine which of our internal ideas closest match reality, we need to test those ideas against the evidence.

    An example. Say the light in your room doesn’t go on. There are a tremendous number of possible reasons why this might be the case. They might be plausible (the bulb has blown, the power is off) or they might be bizarre (the power-pixies have stolen all the electricity; the electrons are tired), but only one corresponds to reality. We can test this (in most cases) pretty easily to determine which of these conceptual models most closely approximates reality. Replace the bulb, check the mains etc. etc., and you can see which of your explanations is the more correct one. You gather evidence to choose between your hypotheses.

    How does god factor into this? In two ways. You might hypothesize that god exists. Lets assume this is the Christian god for now. We’ll come back to that later. Another hypothesis is that all of the actions attributed to this god actually happened. In other words, the Bible is literally true. This provides us with a tremendous number of possible hypotheses to test. If there was a global flood, then fossils in older rock strata should not be different from those in younger ones. If Jonah really survived in a whale, then whales should be able to support a human being in their alimentary canals. If the sun stood still for Joshua, then the movement of the planets should reflect this.

    The problem is, virtually all of these hypotheses have been convincingly refuted, or, if shown to be true, to have other, more natural explanations. What this means is that we cannot trust the Bible to tell us anything about the god which inhabits its pages. Fossils are stratified. Whales have gullets so small an orange can’t pass through. Our understanding of planetary movement is so good that we can show conclusively, to the minute, when and where an eclipse will occur. And the chance of the sun standing still, or even of the earth standing still (a much more plausible hypothesis), based on this evidence, is incredibly remote.

    So, where does that leave us? We can test many things that the Bible tells us. Almost all of those stories fail the test of reality. Which means that, even if there were a god, with every falsified hypothesis, we lose information on who he is. We can’t assign any personality traits to him. We know nothing conclusive or strongly-supported about him. We must be very careful about trusting anything the Bible says is the literal truth about him. At best, this will force a person to consider the Bible in a more metaphorical light. It cannot be literally true, simply because the evidence does not support it.

    This brings me back to the first point. We’re still left with the hypothesis of a god. I will fully concede that I cannot, ever, disprove the existence of a god. There is always a possibility that this is the case. There are two answers to this. One is Russell’s teapot. The other is more tangential, in that, if that god exists, then he/she/it/they do(es) not have any of the characteristics assigned to it by any conventional religion, because virtually all of those characteristics have either failed the test of evidence, or are untestable, and thus unknowable with any degree of certainty. The chances of your conception of god and the real thing being the same, given we can’t know it, are extremely small.

    So. That is effectively my reasoning behind my lack of belief in a god. It’s not about faith (inasmuch as I lack it), or getting back at someone for not existing, or any somesuch. It is a simple lack of evidence.

    Hope this clarifies things.

  • 343 Kenneth Oberlander // Feb 17, 2009 at 5:10 pm

    @Amanda

    Right. So absolute evil cannot exist.

    I don’t recall making the argument that it does. Neither does absolute good.

    @Ben-Jammin’

    Yes. There’s not much point in two people with different understandings of what the + symbol means arguing about the correct answer to 2+2.

    Point taken. Lets hope we can agree on the plus sign, then.

    @gerhard
    AFAIK, he is only giving a single talk, in Grahamstown. I don’t really know much more, but if I hear anything more concrete, I’ll let you know.

  • 344 Thomas // Feb 17, 2009 at 6:26 pm

    There is an immense literature on the evolution of altruism out there. For one thing, it increases the chances of survival of your close kin, who carry your genes. For another, if you can trust someone to reciprocate your good deeds, then both of you win in the long run. Thus altruism has been shown to be an evolutionarily stable outcome, both by models of kin selection, and by game theory. More importantly, it is supported by huge amounts of evidence.

    So this is a non-question. It assumes that morality come from god. We have no evidence to show that it does. We have abundant evidence to show that empathy, compassion, co-operation, and altruism are evolutionarily favoured traits within the context of a social primate such as ourselves.

    If morality does not come from a supreme being called God, from whence does it come? Kenneth supplies the answer in his rather selfish solution for the problem : “For another, if you can trust someone to reciprocate your good deeds, then both of you win in the long run.” Trust between two human beings can be a very shaky thing especially when you want the other persons to reciprocate (or imitate) your good deeds. By doing this you are immediately assuming the role of a trendsetter for high morals, engendered by your personal opinion of good deeds. As soon as you set the standard for altruism and expect others to follow suit you are playing God. “Ok guys, here are the good deeds I want you to do. Trust me and follow my example of doing good deeds and we will all win in the long run.” Had this been the ultimate solution, countries would have had no need of governments and leaders to make laws to protect the law abiding citizens and to punish the law breakers.

    The alternative, of course, is to gather a group of people around you who are in sympathy with your particular brand of good deeds. You see, no two people always agree on what constitutes good deeds. You may want to be a Robin Hood figure who steals from the rich to give to the poor. Which one of the two is the good deed? Morality is not determined so much by what you do but what you actually refrain from doing. Most of the Ten Commandments are negative commands beginning with “You shall not.” Man will never be uplifted morally by telling him what to do, for the simple reason that he already knows what it means to do good. Even the beast, Adolf Hitler, knew how to extend an altruistic hand to his next of kin.

    No matter what you say or believe in regard to altruism and its so-called evolutionary development, the laws of a country are derived from the Ten Commandments which proves that morality comes from God. You cannot separate empathy, compassion, and co-operation (your own words) from God’s Commandments. Stealing from your neigbour and lusting after your neigbours wife (even in your thoughts) comes from a heart that is devoid of empathy, compassion and co-operation.

  • 345 Hugo // Feb 17, 2009 at 6:38 pm

    In that comment, Thomas actually touches on some of the theories raised by anthropologists for how/why belief in gods/the-supernatural developed among primitive societies, setting up an external agent / trust-enforcer in the communities that discovered the meme, providing them with a trust/cooperation benefit that leads to survival of those communities. A meme-gene co-adapted/co-evolved combination is born, beneficial for both gene and meme.

    Remarkably interesting stuff, I should’ve studied anthroplogy! ;-)

  • 346 Thomas // Feb 17, 2009 at 6:49 pm

    To Kenneth Oberlander.

    Here is a very interesting article on morals you can read.

    http://www.thebereancall.org/node/7125

  • 347 Amanda // Feb 17, 2009 at 9:33 pm

    @Kenneth Oberlander

    Hope this clarifies things.

    Yes. You reject the Bible. Got it.

    @Hugo

    Before you kill this thread, I want to thank you for having me here and teaching me what a christ follower believes and rejects. Not everybody is this open about it. I am especially grateful to you for alerting me to the freedom of speech issue. It has been right in front of me for years and I missed it. Of course, emergents do not use that term, but they are teaching their followers to refrain from saying ‘hurtful’ things. It would be in the interest of ‘peace’ and the unification of all religions to silence the fundamentalist by taking away their right to freedom of speech, just as Gerhard advocated. This one is definitely going onto my checklist. This weekend we have the spectacle of Tony Campolo coming to Moreletapark’s Missions Fest. I wonder if all the attendees will be issued with their own little white flags:

    On evangelicals and interfaith cooperation: an interview with Tony Campolo by Shane Claiborne 2005:

    We don’t have to give up trying to convert each other. What we have to do is show respect to one another. And to speak to each other with a sense that even if people don’t convert, they are God’s people, God loves them, and we do not make the judgment of who is going to heaven and who is going to hell.

    I think that what we all have to do is leave judgment up to God. The Muslim community is very evangelistic, however what Muslims will not do is condemn Jews and Christians to Hell if in fact they do not accept Islam…

    I think there are Muslim brothers and sisters who are willing to say, “You live up to the truth as you understand it. I will live up to the truth as I understand it, and we will leave it up to God on judgment day”…

    Catholicism would say that at the moment of death every person is confronted in that split moment with Christ and is given the opportunity of saying yes or no. To say otherwise is to say God has got to be a pretty unfair deity, to condemn three quarters of the human race to hell without them ever having a chance.

    Hugo, thank you for your patience and hospitality.

    Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me. (Rev 3:20)

  • 348 Hugo // Feb 18, 2009 at 12:36 am

    Please continue the discussion on this page, to avoid having to load all 350 comments every time.