Saturday, April 25, 2009

‘The God Who Wasn’t There’ – incitement to religious hatred?



Cranmer has seen this film advertised on a number of websites. It boasts:

'Bowling for Columbine' did it to the gun culture.
'Super Size Me' did it to fast food.
Now 'The God Who Wasn't There' does it to religion.

The documentary 'irreverently lays out the case that Jesus Christ never existed'. Apparently, viewers will discover:

1) The early founders of Christianity seem wholly unaware of the idea of a human Jesus

2) The Jesus of the Gospels bears a striking resemblance to other ancient heroes and the figureheads of pagan savior cults

3) Contemporary Christians are largely ignorant of the origins of their religion

4) Fundamentalism is as strong today as it ever has been, with an alarming 44% of Americans believing that Jesus will return to earth in their lifetimes

The makers do not say precisely how viewers will 'discover' these things, but Cranmer is quite certain it shall not be by burning bush or stone tablet. Assertions 1, 2 a 4 are nothing new; they imperil not one jot or tittle of the New Testament revelation. Anyone with the most cursory knowledge of the early ecumenical councils will know of the fierce debates which took place on the humanity and divinity of Christ: the Creeds of the Church did not come from nowhere. And assertion 3 is wholly accurate; this film is merely a further embodiment of that very ignorance.

The God Who Wasn't There apparently 'pulls no punches', and presents an abundance of 'proof' from sundry atheists including Richard Dawkins. These amount to no punches at all. The film is directed by 'award-winning filmmaker (and former Christian) Brian Flemming'. It is good that Mr Flemming won the egg and spoon race while he was at school, but there is no indication of him having ever won anything remotely credible in the world of cinematography.

But the Los Angeles Times says the film is 'provocative - to put it mildly'.

So Cranmer would like to know if this falls foul of the UN's resultion to protect religions from defamation. Surely such a resolution cannot only apply to Islam?

The language of the resolution is expressed in diplomatic fog, but the intent is perfectly clear. It speaks of recognising 'the valuable contribution of all religions to modern civilization and the contribution that dialogue among civilisations can make towards improved awareness and understanding of the common values shared by all humankind'. The resolution then goes on to express concern 'that defamation of religions, and incitement to religious hatred in general, could lead to social disharmony and violations of human rights'. It talks of being 'alarmed at the inaction of some States to combat this burgeoning trend and the resulting discriminatory practices against adherents of certain religions and in this context stressing the need to effectively combat defamation of all religions and incitement to religious hatred in general and against Islam and Muslims in particular'.

So if 'The God Who Wasn't There' does not fall foul of this resolution, would a documentary which critically examines the foundations of Islam? If such a film were to be made which expounds Islam's origins in pagan moon worship, and critiques the life and claims of Mohammed, would the UN judge it to be 'defamation' and an incitement to 'religious hatred'? Would one be permitted to advertise it with impunity?

137 Comments:

Blogger Bill said...

Dear Cranmer,

I read your posts with interest. This is the first time I have been compelled to write.

I am agnostic.

Please prove to me that God exists.

25 April 2009 at 07:43  
Blogger Cranmer said...

Mr Bill,

His Grace is delighted to hear from you. But faith is being sure of what you hope for and certain of what you do not see. His Grace can no more prove what you request any more than you can disprove it.

But please do not ignore the purpose of this particular post. If this film be blasphemous and seeks to defame Christianity, why does it not fall foul of the UN resolution?

His Grace supports your right to freedom of conscience and freedom of expression. In His Grace's world you are perfectly at liberty to spout your agnosticism. Please consider the potential reaction if you were to publicly question, criticise or repudiate the faith claims of Islam.

25 April 2009 at 07:54  
Anonymous len said...

I must say that satan certainly is persistent!.
His attack on christianity is relentless and ongoing.
I think the unconverted should ask themselves why?

25 April 2009 at 08:16  
Blogger Bill said...

what of the rights of the faithless to equally assert that God doesn't exist? Isn't hatred against them being raised? Doesn't this resolution by its very existence cause the strife it seeks to ameliorate? Are the godless less worthy as human beings than the faithful? Is the resolution a conspiracy against freedom of religion? ("You may say what you like, as long as I agree with you.") seems to be the stance. Are not atheism and agnosticism belief systems as are religions?

25 April 2009 at 08:32  
Anonymous len said...

Mr Bill,
'Now without faith it is impossible to please God, for whoever comes to Him must believe that He exists and that he rewards those who diligently search for Him.( Hebrews 11:6 )
( Which brings us to the question how do I get faith when I haven`t got any?)
'Faith comes by hearing and hearing by the word of God. (reading or hearing the bible)Romans 10:17
This is why preaching the Gospel is so important , and the reason why the powers of hell try to stop the Gospel being preached!

25 April 2009 at 08:37  
Blogger Microcosm said...

How about a film claiming the UN does not exist, if the UN has a problem with it we can all dismiss them as delusional.

After all the Anglo Saxon system gAve the World the idea the people were above the Monarch in Common Law and the people did not create the UN.

25 April 2009 at 08:42  
Anonymous Preacher said...

Bill, I write as an ex atheist. but God IS real it came as a shock to me but it was a definitive experience that cannot be denied & changed my life.
This film looks like such a lot of speculative rubbish that I hope true believers will either ignore it, or go & see it & confirm what a lot of rubbish it is, so that peole will not have the 'out' of saying "have you seen it? then how can you criticise it?".
It will be rubbish so don't be afraid of it.

25 April 2009 at 09:07  
Blogger The Half-Blood Welshman said...

If it's got Dawkins in it Your Grace, I wouldn't worry. The poor man becomes ever more a walking advert against Atheism.

25 April 2009 at 09:16  
OpenID jamestheless said...

"Please prove to me that God exists."

As His Grace has already observed, this is not possible.

God is not an intellectual entity whose existence can be proved or disproved by rational argument; he is a living being with whom we can have a personal relationship.

Like true love, this relationship seems so obviously right when you find it, it rarely happens when you are looking for it, and it is almost impossible to describe to someone who has not experienced it. And it makes all proofs seem completely irrelevant.

25 April 2009 at 09:34  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You really have your finger on the pulse don't you Cranmer? This "new" film is nearly 5 years old. Your extremist friends at Christian Voice were protesting about it (do they ever do anything else?) years ago.

http://www.christianvoice.org.uk/Press/press053.html

25 April 2009 at 09:53  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I can hear Blair justifying an exemption for this film: "Of course, what matters in christianity are merely the core values of respect, justice and compassion. Key doctrines such as the Divinity of Christ, and key moral statements, such as those about homosexuality are divisive in this day and age, and ought not to be promoted. So this film does not damage christianity, only a fundamentalist view of it"

The film will not be banned. Blair sees to it that only the Truth is outlawed in this country.

25 April 2009 at 09:59  
Anonymous no nonny said...

James the Less - Oh, I like that analogy of yours. That hits the nail on the head.

Furthermore, Mr. Bill - you'll know when it happens to you!

25 April 2009 at 10:10  
Anonymous Martin Sewell said...

Wiiftgenstein likened the debate about God to one of those curious pictures which can be " read" in two different way. You know the ones I mean- the los woman/ young girl, the Two faces/ Greek urn, or in his example, the Duck/ Rabbit.

There are some who, looking at the same data only see the duck: some only the rabbit: others both.

It is impossible to demonstrate by logical/ rational means that there is a rabbit in the data, to one who is stuck with the view of the duck. Some things can only be SHOWN, not argued.

This is the problem with militant atheists. Their intelectual arrogance never allows them to reflect on the limits of their methodology.

25 April 2009 at 10:20  
Anonymous TheGlovner said...

"Their intelectual [sic] arrogance never allows them to reflect on the limits of their methodology."

Which are the same problems shown everyday by fundamental religious groups.

First and foremost Atheism is not a belief system, it is not a belief that god doesn't exist it is a lack of belief due to the non-existence of tangible evidence. In other words every true Atheist, myself included is an agnostic as we accept that we cannot prove the non-existence of god, however logically we are far more inclined to be on the side that god does not exist due to the evidence available and so I do not wish to waste my life spending time worshipping something which most evidence tells me is false and the only evidence to the contrary is delivered from bias sources and a book written 1700 years ago in superstitious times where peoples understanding was lacking by today's standards.

Now all that taken into account you are asking for things to be banned because of your unproven beliefs (not facts, or truths but beliefs) which by their very nature are based purely on faith an so cannot be proved. In every sphere of human intelligent society the burden of truth lies with the claimant, you claim your god exists but cannot provide proof for him and so we should continue to treat it as a belief until adequate proof is provided.

This is the same everywhere except in the sphere of religion and there is no reason why this should be the case.

You are free to your beliefs but until you can present your beliefs as facts and truth (which you have already stated you can't) you should be given no privileges or rights to make decisions which affect other groups of society who do not share your beliefs.

25 April 2009 at 11:15  
Blogger John Hackworth said...

"The makers do not say precisely how viewers will 'discover' these things"

By, er, opening their eyes? You should try it sometime. Have you even watched the film?

"God is not an intellectual entity whose existence can be proved or disproved by rational argument"

Well, he can't be omnipotent and omniscient, for starters. But we don't care so much about that - we require evidence. The kind of spectacular stuff (stopping the sun in the sky (sic) etc) that stopped happening exactly at the time the camera was invented.

"intelectual" (sic) - No further comment.

"God IS real it came as a shock to me but it was a definitive experience that cannot be denied"

But you accept that when followers of the other 9,999 religions have this experience, it is false, just the mind playing tricks on them?

"I hope true believers will either ignore it, or go & see it & confirm what a lot of rubbish it is"

Or, like you, they could do both: confirm that it's rubbish without (as far as I can tell) watching it?

Nice True Scotsman to keep the ad hominems company, BTW

25 April 2009 at 11:15  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Bill,

I don't think anyone can prove beyond the shadow of a doubt that God exists. For those of us who do believe in Him, one needs only to look at a butterfly or a bird or a baby, and see those as elements of a divine creation. It is a function of faith. I believe because I believe.

I was raised as a Christian, went to church as a child, and became very doubtful in my late teenage years. I never mocked those who went to Church regularly, but I looked at religion more as an academic study to be studied, and little more than a cultural relic. Then, one day, 14 years ago, as I sat by a river and had my lunch, and looked at the nature around me and thought about what life meant and what my role was, I came to the realisation that nothing made any sense without God. It was not a flash-of-light-type revelation. It was more like a soothing breeze blew over me. (Too poetic, I agree, but I cannot think of another way to describe it.) Today, I would not consider myself the model Christian, and I still only infrequently go to church, but, still, faith is, for me, very personal. I believe because I do.

As an agnostic, you want proof to decide. I would suggest that you look around you and ask "Why is this all here?" and "What is it all for?".

Best wishes.

25 April 2009 at 11:57  
Blogger rrraven said...

I wholly support your idea of making a movie critical to Islam that will be much milder than Fitna but drive the same point home.

That's the only thing I like about any religions - they also fight each other.
Makes sense, if a cult leader moves into town, one that was there before loses business, you see. Not even speaking of these annoying startups.

25 April 2009 at 12:14  
Anonymous PaganPride said...

Well I am a pagan - and I follow a system of practices that has a much longer history than Christianity.

Most of the rituals, the buildings and the core 'myths' of the newer religions have their basis in paganism. Even the word Easter is formed from an ancietn goddess name, Eostre.

However, that is as may be, and if you have found faith and comfort in the words of your gods then that is fantastic for you, and I do not wish to change or discredit what you believe.

What I do object to, and object to quite vehemently, is your calm assurance that you and you alone have the truth about God, ignoring other's equally valid claims for recognition. As I see it, each modern religion bases their existance on the truth of their sacred text, and that includs Scientology and Mormons.

If you admit that the existence of god cannot be proved, then each religion has equal opportunity of being right.

What you believe is right for you, what muslims believe is right for them, and what I believe is right for me.

More wars have been fought over a god whose existence cannot be proved. Surely it is time for such nonsense to stop

25 April 2009 at 12:16  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

No one here read Mere Christianity by CS Lewis. Some pretty good rational argument in there for the necessary existence of the christian God. Suggest you atheists/agnostics try it - unless, of course, you are not open minded.

25 April 2009 at 12:29  
Blogger Tony Morris said...

"Please prove to me that God exists."

As His Grace has already observed, this is not possible.

Congratulations, you are Agnostic. Remember kids, Agnosticism is not distinct from Theism or Atheism. There are Agnostic Theists and Agnostic Atheists.

I am Agnostic Atheist. You are Agnostic Theist.

It's a fun game we play :)

25 April 2009 at 12:32  
Anonymous Hank Petram said...

On the subject of western values versus Islamic values, here’s something interesting from an unexpected source (a couple of brief snippets only):

But was it practical to let Pakistan develop as it did in the last thirty years, without asking what effect the madrassas would have on a generation educated in them? Or wise to employ the Taliban to drive the Russians out of Afghanistan? Or to ask Saddam to halt Iran? [. . .]

The ideology we are fighting is not based on justice. That is a cause we can understand. And world-wide these groups are adept, certainly, at using causes that indeed are about justice, like Palestine. Their cause, at its core, however, is not about the pursuit of values that we can relate to; but in pursuit of values that directly contradict our way of life. They don't believe in democracy, equality or freedom. They will espouse, tactically, any of these values if necessary. But at heart what they want is a society and state run on their view of Islam. They are not pluralists. They are the antithesis of pluralism. And they don't think that only their own community or state should be like that. They think the world should be governed like that.
From Tony Blair’s widely reported speech in Chicago last Thursday. Credit where it’s due: the old fake seems to be telling the truth for once.

http://tonyblairoffice.org/2009/04/tony-blair-speech-to-chicago-c.html

25 April 2009 at 12:38  
Anonymous Hereward said...

"Even the word Easter is formed from an ancietn goddess name, Eostre."

Well, actually it's the Saxon name of the month in which the festival falls. In most languages, the Feast of the Resurrection is known by names relating it to the Jewish Pesach. Red herring.

25 April 2009 at 13:13  
Anonymous Hereward said...

Anyway, I believe his Grace's point is to highlight double standards: if one may criticise Christianity with impunity - and often with glee, it seems - why may one not criticise the 'religion of peace' on pain of barbaric reprisals?

25 April 2009 at 13:25  
Anonymous len said...

Man says to God 'Give me proof and I will believe in you'
God has already proved who He is.
Jesus Christ fulfilled all the prophesies, healed the sick, raised the dead, preached the kingdom.
Did you believe Him?

25 April 2009 at 13:26  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The only thing that I've got against this film is it excludes that other belief system Islam and the clips shown in the Trailer are old ones from the Jerry Falwell days.

25 April 2009 at 13:58  
Anonymous TheGlovner said...

"No one here read Mere Christianity by CS Lewis. Some pretty good rational argument in there for the necessary existence of the christian God. Suggest you atheists/agnostics try it - unless, of course, you are not open minded."

I would also hazard a guess that you have not read "The God Delusion" by Richard Dawkins. It presents many logical arguments against the existence of god.

So by your reckoning my book cancels your book out and we are back where we started.

Good day.

25 April 2009 at 14:11  
Anonymous TheGlovner said...

"As an agnostic, you want proof to decide. I would suggest that you look around you and ask "Why is this all here?" and "What is it all for?"."

The answer to these questions you automatically assume is god then I take it?

Well other people would say Buddha, others may say Ra, which I would make the assumption (and feel free to correct me if I am wrong) you would denounce as a fallacy.

The question I would have to ask you then is why is someone elses "beliefs" given less weight than your "beliefs"?

And more to the point why does anyone have to pay any heed to your "beliefs" and have them encroach on their lives when they do not share your "beliefs"?

I think these are more important questions to be answered than the ones that you have raised......

25 April 2009 at 14:19  
Anonymous indigomyth said...

There are atheists out there that do not pull their punches in regards to Islam (www.patcondell.net). I suspect that it is not that atheists are not prepared to heavily criticise Islam in a film documentary, but rather that funding for such a project would not be forthcoming from film or TV studios.

There are good reasons for targeting films on specific religions; not all criticisms will apply to all religions.

I am a bit confused as to why True Christians TM would not make a film about atheism, and what they believe to be its short-comings and inconsistencies? The closest has been "Expelled: No intelligence allowed" which was more focused on evolution, rather than atheism specifically. Surely the same studio that supported "Expelled" would be willing to fund an anti-atheism film?

I would have to agree that it is highly inconsistent to so heavily criticise Christianity, and not Islam. They should both be pilloried by "liberals" as they are both abhorrent belief systems. However, it is understandable why Islam is not targeted by many. If I was trapped in a room with a neo-Nazis who was 7ft tall, built like a bull, and armed with a baseball bat, I would be foolish to attack them for their beliefs. However, if I was stuck in a room with a neo-Nazis who was thin, weak and unarmed, I might be more inclined to criticise them. Both hold the same repugnant views, but one is far easier to criticise. I do not think you can really blame atheists and "liberals" for having a good sense of self-preservation!

I would also note that many True Christians TM seem to spend a lot of time heavily attacking atheism, yet are hardly vocal when it comes to criticising Islam. Even Cranmer is guilty of this: he respects "tradition", and therefore respects Islam. No such respect seems forthcoming for atheism, or, indeed "liberalism". It would seem that, for Cranmer, any religious tradition is better than a secular humanist tradition. I am curious, just how many secular humanists threaten Cranmer and those like him with stoning and death when he says something they do not like? How many effigies of the Pope have been burned by secular humanists and "liberals"? And yet it is Muslims that Cranmer supports? He seems to demand a spine from others, when he himself is invertebrate.

25 April 2009 at 14:23  
Anonymous Ade said...

Anybody ever heard the Marxist term 'Critical Theory',

IE keep questioning the pillars of society until it collapses, death by a thousand cuts.
Worth looking into, it explains a lot of what we see around us.

25 April 2009 at 14:27  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

theGlovner,

Dawkins believes in scientism. The self-refuting belief that 'science explains everything'. That statement is not a statement of science, but of the philosophy of science, and therefore should be discounted. Dawkins is no philosopher and his worldview is inconsistent and irrational.

Moving on, this page is not an argument about the existence of God, it's about double standards, and how, in today's climate, the one position that may be mocked, and the one position which it is becoming increasinly unlawful to hold, is the Christian one.

25 April 2009 at 14:30  
Anonymous indigomyth said...

//Moving on, this page is not an argument about the existence of God, it's about double standards, and how, in today's climate, the one position that may be mocked, and the one position which it is becoming increasinly unlawful to hold, is the Christian one.//

WTF? What are you talking about?! There are loads of ideological positions that are unlawful to hold, and that are socially unacceptable: racism, anti-Semitism, sexism, to name three.

Members of the BNP are banned from joining the police force and the Church of England! This is because their belief system is held to be incompatible with today's society. In certain countries, Nazism is illegal. That is an ideological system, a belief position.

True Christianity TM is just one other belief system joining the rest in the dust bin of ideological history. The only difference is that you happen to subscribe to this one; try being a member of the BNP for the day, or a Nazi, or a racist, and then claim that Christianity (of the TM kind) is the only position that may be mocked.

Even if you only meant a "theological position", my point still stands. Racist theologies are as unacceptable as racist beliefs held independently of religion.

25 April 2009 at 14:38  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"True Christianity TM is just one other belief system joining the rest in the dust bin of ideological history."

You mean you have a better ideology? And if so, why is it better? Because it's more recent, perhaps?

If you subscribe to any form of relativism, the notion of a 'better ideology' is irrational.

You write that 'racist theologies are unacceptable'. According to what moral code?

25 April 2009 at 15:01  
Anonymous indigomyth said...

//You mean you have a better ideology? And if so, why is it better? Because it's more recent, perhaps?

If you subscribe to any form of relativism, the notion of a 'better ideology' is irrational.

You write that 'racist theologies are unacceptable'. According to what moral code?//

A fair question.

I do not subscribe to relativism. //According to what moral code? //
According to mine, of course!

Unlike most True Christians TM who use the construction of god to lend weight to their moral convictions, I do not bother, I merely say it is wrong because I say it is. That if you do what I find objectionable, you will be destroyed. Its simple and direct, and does away with the superfluous notion of a divine punisher.

More specifically, I subscribe to an Epicurean philosophy of pleasure maximisation/ pain minimisation. In that respect, my moral code is the best.

Regards,
indigomyth

25 April 2009 at 15:25  
Anonymous Voyager said...

Please prove to me that God exists.What proof would that be ?

Perhaps Bill can prove he exists and that what he thinks exists is really Bill In fact he addresses one of Philosophy's conundrums about Knowledge and Belief and we are left to wonder since colour itself is perceptive and related to the rods and cones in the back of the eye whether "objective colour" exists.

In fact Bill before we discuss David Hume's 'missing shade of blue' can you prove to me that RED exists as an independent fator in the universe ?

25 April 2009 at 15:26  
Blogger Homophobic Horse said...

Most people think reason is synonymous with reality, or perhaps God. It's a long term effect of Scholasticism.

25 April 2009 at 15:30  
Anonymous len said...

Do not be rash with your mouth,
And let not your heart utter
Anything hastily before God,
For God is in heaven; and you on earth,
Therefore let your words be few,
For a dream comes through much activity, and a fools voice is known by his many words.
(Ecclesiates5:2-3)

25 April 2009 at 15:39  
Anonymous TheGlovner said...

"Moving on, this page is not an argument about the existence of God, it's about double standards, and how, in today's climate, the one position that may be mocked, and the one position which it is becoming increasinly unlawful to hold, is the Christian one."

I am afraid to tell you that is exactly what the argument is about at the core.

You tell me that things should work in a specific way which comes from your belief in god. Which I say you can provide no truth (and remember the burden of truth always lies with the claimant) for and so your beliefs should therefore have no place in society to control the lives of others that don't subscribe to your beliefs.

As for your thoughts on Dawkins (and by the way, as you couldn't spot it, I was mearly being facious in my reply about not reading CS Lewis, you cite one book I cite another it proves nothing is my point), yes he is a scientist, science teaches people to think build a theory and bcak it up with evidence the more evidence you can provide for your theory the more chance it has of being accepted as a truth.

Faith on the other hand asks you to ignore what all facts and evidence tell you and accept something which is completely illogical. Then you are expected not to question the illogical but accept it as fact. And that attitude to me and many other intelligent atheists is not logical and therefore flawed.

On a side note, I do always find it amusing how the religious denounce science when it doesn't agree with them but when there is something that can be presented from a scientific standpoint to back up a religious claim they are all over it in a second saying it is scentific proof for their belief. Hypocritical don't you think?

25 April 2009 at 15:47  
Blogger Samizdat said...

Surprisingly enough, it's not enough just to say "this film is merely a further embodiment of that very ignorance." without actually rebutting the claims made in the film. It seems that all you've done is look at the advert--and ignored the fact that while YOU may know about 1, 2, and 4 MOST christians don't.

Your fatwah envy is similarly amusing. Unfortunately, we know that Muhammed existed (just as we know Joseph Smith and Brigham Young copied his idea of adapting Christianity to their homeland centuries later), so your point is...pointless.

There has never been, and it is unlikely there ever will be, any convincing evidence for Jesus's existence, or even much of a reason to think he was originally envisaged as existing. You have completely missed the point.

25 April 2009 at 15:54  
Anonymous the recusant said...

Mr Bill,


His Grace has clearly said: “His Grace supports your right to freedom of conscience and freedom of expression. In His Grace's world you are perfectly at liberty to spout your agnosticism.”

And yet you reply with: “what of the rights of the faithless …”

Now either you are directing your victims manifest to the subject raised on this Blogg, in which case your answer was already in place or it is directed to religion in general in which case what has it to do with His Graces specific choice of subject?

If you cannot understand His Graces simple expression of liberty to vent ones agnostical spleen without fear or favour then it puts into clear perspective your confusion over the existence of God.

But just so you don’t go away thinking that those faith heads ignored you, asking for proof that God exists is a silly question. Quite apart from the obvious that if God were to reveal Himself like some latter day Zeus atop Olympus, faith would be irrelevant, in the monotheistic understanding, God is not a corporeal being but purely spiritual. The question is analogous to Does your mother love you, yes? Prove it.

What does this mean? Well it means one cannot use physical measurement, or any of the methods we use to prove existential phenomenon on insubstantial quantities. One may as well say how much does a TV signal weigh or what flavour is a thought. It has been rightly said ‘For those who believe, no proof is needed. For those who do not believe, no proof is enough.’

The nearest that you will get to proving Gods existence in terms you may be familiar with is ‘Objective Truth’ and ‘Free will’, now you can spend the rest of your life philosophising about the meaning inherent in these terms, many have, however may I recommend you consider Pascal's wager, its not perfect but it is a start.

25 April 2009 at 15:56  
Anonymous TheGlovner said...

"In fact Bill before we discuss David Hume's 'missing shade of blue' can you prove to me that RED exists as an independent fator [sic]in the universe ?"

But all you are doing here is avoiding the question by answering it with an unrelated question.

If I were to tell you that I believe I am followed round by a magical invisible giraffe named Fred and he created th universe and everything in it, including you. It also tells me that your religion is incorrect and becuase of it you will spend all of eternity being fed marmite unless you worship Fred for the rest of your days. Are you then telling me that you wouldn't question me on this? You wouldn't ask me to prove it? And when I told you it doesn't require proof as I believe therefore it must be that would satisfy your arguments?

Nope didn't think so.

I have no evidence to support the existence of a god (your's or any others, and yes that includes the islamic faith too, I have no evidence provided to me to believe any of them) and because of this we must settle with the null status of there not being a god because if god answers the questions you ask then there is no reason why the answer can't be Fred my magical invsible giraffe and lets face it, that is just ridiculous.

25 April 2009 at 15:58  
Anonymous the recusant said...

Ms PaganPride,

Modern day paganism/wicca/witchcraft (take your pick) is the invention of an English civil servant, self publicist and narcissist by the name of Gerald Brousseau Gardner who published a book Witchcraft Today in 1954. In the book he not only espoused the survival of the witch-cult, but also his theory that a belief in faeries in Europe is due to a secretive pygmy race that lived alongside other communities and that the Knights Templar had been initiates of the cult.

Contrary to your outlook I would like to discredit gaia worship, ley lines, crystalology, astrology and all the rest of the hokum and change what you believe in because contrary to what you may believe, Salvation is Only through Christ, out side of this you do not hold any equally valid claims about truth and God. All pagans can aspire to is a cabbage soup of relativistic, valueless nonsense nowhere more evident than when you say:

“Each religion has equal opportunity of being right” and “what you believe is right for you, what muslims believe is right for them, and what I believe is right for me.”

And to cap it all, as if on cue from a stereotype you throw in the credulous throwaway line ‘More wars have been fought over religion…’, favourite soliloquy of atheists, agnostics and the confused in general. Monotheism can have it difficulties, that is a given, but belief in paganism, that takes credulity to new heights. G K Chesterton was never more right when he said: "When people stop believing in God, they don't believe in nothing -- they believe in anything."

Why am I so disparaging of this mumbo jumbo, simply because pagan philosophy doesn’t deserve respect, it deserves derision and condescension, and in large slopping over buckets. How un-Christian you may say, well that’s because your grip on Christianity is about as effective as your grip on reality if you subscribe to paganism.

25 April 2009 at 16:14  
Anonymous TheGlovner said...

recusant.

Pascal's wager? Are you serious?

So we should believe in something because to not believe in it we may lose out after we die?

If that is the extent of your faith then it is a very limited life you will lead.

I can lead a perfectly moral life without the aid of fearing a being in which there is no facts for. This is because morals, no matter how much the religious would like to believe, are not are not religiously exclusive.

Even if there were a god I "believe" he would put far more stock into someone that leads a good life and questions things to understand them out of choice rather than doing things because you are told and from a fear of the unknown.

25 April 2009 at 16:17  
Anonymous TheGlovner said...

recusant

The hypocrisy in your post concerning paganism is unbelievable.

I am lost for words at the arrogance you display defending your "beliefs".

25 April 2009 at 16:21  
Anonymous Martin Sewell said...

The Glovner clearly needs to reflect a little more upon whether God is intra or extra systemic.

He may conclude that the existance of God is not a question of (intra systemic) reason.

The Scientific method can desrcibe what happened back to the micro seconds after all that is came into being. What it can never do is to address what lay beyond, or dare I say "before" the time which we inhabit.

Dawkins and his narrow minded acolytes cannot explain how/why there should be something rather than nothing. Neither can they begin to address how so much that plainly "is" came into being from nothing with no "rtional" reason.

For years their intellectual forebears used to assert that the universe had always existed and that in an infinite universe with infinite time "anything" can happen "by cahnce". They could even assert that our existence was inevitable in such a universe.

This was why they took such a hit when the Big Bang was discovered and lo and behold those "bronze age" sages appeared to have (miraculously?) got it right, there was indeed a "beginning" and an "end of time" and everything that is did actually come into being "out of nothing" and in accordance with an amazing logic which some called "The Word" (Logos).

For a while they denied the return of " a moment of creation" but have to accept it now and despite much effort are still struggling to explain how so much anthropic tuning of the universe and bio diverse complexity manages to come together in the relatively short time that th euniverse has existed in a form amenable to life. The maths do not look good for them. It was Albert Eistein who observed that " God does nto play dice.

Between Wittgenstein and Eistein us Christians have some pretty big hitters on the Team and you offer us Richard Dawkins??

Too bad you don't believe in David and Goliath!

25 April 2009 at 16:43  
Blogger Pete said...

Martin, since when was Einstein a christian? If I may be so bold as to quote him:

"My position concerning God is that of an agnostic. I am convinced that a vivid consciousness of the primary importance of moral principles for the betterment and ennoblement of life does not need the idea of a law-giver, especially a law-giver who works on the basis of reward and punishment."

and

"It was, of course, a lie what you read about my religious convictions, a lie which is being systematically repeated. I do not believe in a personal god and I have never denied this but have expressed it clearly. If something is in me which can be called religious then it is the unbounded admiration for the structure of the world so far as our science can reveal it."

25 April 2009 at 16:56  
Anonymous TheGlovner said...

No, i'm afraid The Glovner doesn't need to reflect on anything you seem to think.

I have stated my case time and time again and not once has any point been answered. Why should the people of this world live by your rules when you admit your beliefs cannot be backed up with truths?

As the previous poster pointed out Albert Einstein was certainly no Christian.

And I never offered Richard Dawkins to anyone, just quoted some points that he made which you have not answered unless you consider sticking your fingers in your ears and name calling a suitable answer to honest questions being raised.

But nice of you to back up the point I make that the religious are quite happy to pick and choose from the world of science when it suits their cause.

Have a nice day.

25 April 2009 at 17:04  
Blogger Little Black Sambo said...

"Members of the BNP are banned from joining ... the Church of England!"

Wrong, I believe. General Synod passed some kind of resolution saying that clergy should not join the BNP but that could have no more power than a piece of advice.
There is certainly nothing to stop members of BNP joining the C of E.
(Famous question: How do you prove that you are not a member of the Church of England?)

25 April 2009 at 17:16  
Anonymous not a machine said...

what such promotions as this film work on is that , the delusion started early and that christianity is primitive.

however i want to help our numerous athiests and pagans with there argument.

even dawkins admits there is order , a chaotic one with no divine purpose , but order none the less.

what has always fascinated me is that even when you get to atoms and quantum level the order is more interesting , some parameters are so fine that the big bang could not have occured.

so you then have to ponder , if there is an order to quantum physics , does this mean god exits or can it be explained in another way.

chance if the only operating cause , does not explain why complex organisms sustain , ie if chance creates stable complex structures then , it must have a direct balance undoing them.

being as complex structures can and do exist , then it is a sound argument to assume , that chance is foiled by order ,and that even if you describe order as series of laws , it still appears that there is a direction , the things allowed by the laws exists , those that cannot form in a law do not.

still no need for god yet as i am describing interactions of physics !!

the more recent arguments against God move over to the idea , that we havent educated the brain , to correctly interpret its surroundings , we do not empower it to see the processes of chance and random and instead , the stereo nature of the hemispheres of the brain , make a delusion or decption that we are unable to escape from as it, combines sensory information with abstract thought , leaving gaps waiting for sensory response.

this explains why non belivers want proof all the time , to percieve god through the 5 senses is physical proof .

as a christian I dont percieve god through my five senses , but i do percieve God in the functionings of the laws and what i believe is my soul.

social science explains our behavoir and interactions and everything to do with survival , how groups form and there purposes.

it is when you get into if these interactions are laws , guides or just common sense , and if they do have a covenant aspect to them , then why ??

the athiest making the case is also bound by a law , he/she isnt as free as they often pose against the believer.

satan is a deceiver wishing to recruit by showing you ,you can have what you want , there is no consequnce , god on the other hand says that this is not all there is and so we have somthing beyond death called heaven in which we find unity with god , hell on the other hand is often portrayed as place of torment .

it is no concidence that in place of torment , you must be wondering perhaps jealous even , the person heaven ward looking , has somthing more, a law that a non beliver cannot see , because he/she will only use proof.

i dont think it is a brain disorder , my own personal experiences of god are beyond pyhscology and tricks , i have little wish to try and explain everything as a mind trick , you would be undon into noting .

there is order , and that gives me enough to think god exists , the love in suffering shows a desire for order , the greed of the self a lack of it

25 April 2009 at 17:33  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

My belief in God comes from rational consideration of this Universe. (See Martin Sewell's post). Not from denying rationality in order to believe.

All the posts on this page, from pagan to christian, assume the validity of reason and logic. If our reasoning processes merely evolved, we have no reason to expect them to be reliable in telling us anything true. (They only equip us to survive) Those who believe in a purely physical universe thus shoot themselves in the foot.

The existence of the Logos (Jesus), the source of logic and rationality itself, gives me ample reason to suspect that my reasoning faculties are reliable and suitable for the environment in which I find myself.

Dawkins has no answer here. The only consistent worldview is one which assumes an omnipotent, eternal, intelligent Creator.

And I think these posts are rather off topic now. It started as a comparison of the treatment of christianity in our culture with the treatment of Islam.

25 April 2009 at 17:45  
Anonymous len said...

Anon17:45,

We have strayed somewhat, but we have given time for the atheists to promote their religion( the religion of man as promoted by Richard Dawkins)
However ,
Jesus Christ said" I am the Way,the Truth , and the Life no man cometh to the Father , but by me.( John 14:6)
Christians are being persecuted all over the world for their beliefs,
People don`t criticize Islam for fear of reprisals, its that simple.

25 April 2009 at 18:08  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Whenever God's, or in this case Christ's existence,is discussed out all the "Flying Spaghetti Monster"brigade speedily emerge.That is most intriguing. Cranmer's is a calm and sane backwater, yet out they come to condescend and insult theistic belief. Are they sitting by their computers waiting to jump into action? Is there a website somewhere which scours the internet for such talk and sets off their alarms so that they can head out and share their gospel with us dunderheads. God only knows. All I know is that if I stumbled across an atheistic website where everyone seemed to be getting what seems sometimes to be erotic pleasure from rubbing each others bon mots against each other, I would very quietly tiptoe away.

25 April 2009 at 19:16  
Blogger Bill said...

Wow!

25 April 2009 at 19:49  
OpenID jamestheless said...

PaganPride,

"Well I am a pagan - and I follow a system of practices that has a much longer history than Christianity.

"Most of the rituals, the buildings and the core 'myths' of the newer religions have their basis in paganism."

Most of the practices of Christianity are ultimately derived from Judaism, abeit sometimes considerably transformed. Judaism has a much longer history than Christianity.

Traditional Church buildings are based on the Roman basilica (i.e., a house), not pagan temples.

Once you get beneath the surface, Christianity is very different indeed from paganism. If it is "based" on anything, it is Judaism, not paganism.

Far from recognising Christianity as just another version of their own religion, the pagans who ran the Roman Empire in the first few centuries found it baffling, irritating and a threat to the social order. Why couldn't Christians just pretend to sacrifice to the Emperor, like everyone else did? Or failing that, just go away?

So they imprisoned, tortured and executed them.

As for other religions being right: I would say that it may be possible for people who follow other religions devoutly to find salvation through them - particularly if they have not heard the Gospel (or have not heard it preached well, which is the same thing).

It is not for me to say whether God can or cannot bring people to him in these circumstances; all I know is that Christianity is the only hope for me.

25 April 2009 at 20:10  
OpenID jamestheless said...

The Glovner,

If I can just respond to one of the many points you have made:

"Faith on the other hand asks you to ignore what all facts and evidence tell you and accept something which is completely illogical. Then you are expected not to question the illogical but accept it as fact. And that attitude to me and many other intelligent atheists is not logical and therefore flawed."

If faith asked you to believe in things which were supported by facts and evidence, then surely it would no longer be faith? It would instead be a logical deduction, or a plausible hypothesis, or a fact, or something along those lines. But not faith, since there is no requirement to believe in anything. In fact, it seems that the only kind of faith that you would find acceptable is a contradiction in terms.

I wonder, what do you think of people who are in love? A lover does not insist on facts or demand scientific evidence to prove that his partner loves him [replace "him" with "her" if you prefer]. A lover does not choose his partner only after proving beyond all doubt that, out of all the women in the world, this woman is his only one who can truly love him. No, he unquestioningly accepts everything, and would be puzzled and hurt by anyone who tried to reason him out of it.

Lovers are illogical of course, but does that make them "flawed"? Or perhaps intelligent people believe that love is only for fools who are too weak to face life on their own? After all, it's only a sensation caused by a change in the balance of chemicals in the body - surely no rational person would let their life be changed for that?

For a Christian, love is central. God created the world - and us - out of his overflowing love. God became man and forsook himself on the cross, because of his love for us. The greatest commandment is that we love the Lord God with all our heart and soul, and our neighbour as ourselves. And that's just for starters...

So what is your view of love? Is it a force which can change the world, or just another example of human irrationality?

25 April 2009 at 21:26  
Blogger Young Mr. Brown said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

25 April 2009 at 22:26  
Blogger Young Mr. Brown said...

"'Bowling for Columbine' did it to the gun culture.
'Super Size Me' did it to fast food.
Now 'The God Who Wasn't There' does it to religion."



This film came out in 2005. I've never heard of it. His Grace had never heard of it. I don't think that this film did anything much to religion.

25 April 2009 at 22:29  
Anonymous indigomyth said...

Anonymous said at 19:16
//Whenever God's, or in this case Christ's existence,is discussed out all the "Flying Spaghetti Monster"brigade speedily emerge.That is most intriguing. Cranmer's is a calm and sane backwater, yet out they come to condescend and insult theistic belief. Are they sitting by their computers waiting to jump into action? Is there a website somewhere which scours the internet for such talk and sets off their alarms so that they can head out and share their gospel with us dunderheads. God only knows.//

Could it be that atheists enjoy debate and discussion? That they want to challenge their non-belief? They do this by seeking out those that hold the opposite view, and Cranmer happens to be an excellent source of, ahem, reasonable debate.

Or would you rather that people never challenged what they believe? That they only talked to those that agreed with them? I personally find it thought provoking and interesting reading Cranmer and his comments. Do I agree with him? Heck no!! Do I enjoy the thought provoking experience? Certainly. It sometimes forces me to reassess what I think I know, it sometimes confirms that the people who hold the opposite view to mine are a bunch of bigoted t*ssp*ts. In either case, it is certainly an interesting experience!

So I hope that explains something of why the "Flying Spaghetti Monster" brigade come to these kind of blogs to challenge those that are here?
Regards,
indigomyth

25 April 2009 at 23:29  
Anonymous indigomyth said...

Jamestheless said,
//I wonder, what do you think of people who are in love? A lover does not insist on facts or demand scientific evidence to prove that his partner loves him [replace "him" with "her" if you prefer]. A lover does not choose his partner only after proving beyond all doubt that, out of all the women in the world, this woman is his only one who can truly love him. No, he unquestioningly accepts everything, and would be puzzled and hurt by anyone who tried to reason him out of it.//

I think the difference is that belief in God posits something that exists beyond the human mind; an independent entity with an independent existence. "Love" is not the same kind of thing, because very few people would say that "Love" exists independently of their own mind. They say they love someone, but that is not a statement suggesting that that love exists outside of their own psyche. When someone says they believe in God, they are saying they believe in something beyond the human mind. This is what makes them different.
Regards,
indigomyth

25 April 2009 at 23:34  
Anonymous indigomyth said...

Little Black Sambo said,

//Wrong, I believe. General Synod passed some kind of resolution saying that clergy should not join the BNP but that could have no more power than a piece of advice.
There is certainly nothing to stop members of BNP joining the C of E.
(Famous question: How do you prove that you are not a member of the Church of England?)//

My apologies for the error. My point still stands however, with regard to BNP members being "persecuted" in the sense that many True Christians TM would understand. If, for example, a True Christian TM was merely advised not to join a company or business because of their belief system or membership to a Church, then that would be labelled "persecution" by many in the hysterical press.If it is persecution in the one case, then it is in the other.

25 April 2009 at 23:42  
Anonymous churchmouse said...

When I was an agnostic, Christians used to say, "I can't discuss this with you any further. My religion forbids it." Perhaps they imagined that I threatened to subvert them; and thought that all I wanted was to argue. Actually, I wanted to believe - just had a few blockades in my 'logic'!

Today, then, I admire the patience and wit of Cranmer's 'regulars': for developing points for those who have blasted in and disrupted the initial discussion (cf Anonymous @ 19:16!!).

Clearly, the attackers never had the advantage of Christian Religious Instruction, as I did. And yes, I say advantage; because the more I witnessed the logic of malevolence at work - 'Man's inhumanity to man'*** - the more I remembered passages from that teaching, and said "Oh, that's what they meant when they said ..." I often see that dynamic at work here on Cranmer, when people post quotations appropriate to the situation being discussed.

26 April 2009 at 00:32  
Anonymous not a machine said...

jamestheless

It was put forward a few years ago that love is a sort of madness in which a primitive part of the brain subverts the higher functions.

The need or desire to procreate , whilst much used by the ad men and women , takes quite a bit of sorting out , we are all weak or rather the flesh is . So is love a quick spray of somthing , followed by a good dinner and coffe then sex ??

if you are defining love as the language of courtship leading to sex , then you end up in all sorts of ideas .

however love that leads to commitment , then to sex , then to stable family , has a deeper purpose , which i believe is god orderd.

love is beyond sex in my book , but it takes quite of bit work to get past the modern view of instant gratification is harmless.

again we see order which is bit more than logic

26 April 2009 at 01:24  
Anonymous Preacher said...

Sorry to rejoin the debate at such a late hour, I think that there is nothing to add to the points raised by the other believers comments, & frankly I cannot be bothered with arguing a point that I know to be true. I've been on both sides of this question & I know all the arguments. It does not benefit me in any way to try & change an unbelievers mind, if you are happy in your unbelief O.K. God does not need me to defend Him or prove to you His existence.
Regarding the film, the trailer looked amateur rubbish that I would resent paying to see, but my point is that there is nothing to fear from watching the infantile ravings of most of these shock horror films for any one that really knows God. I simply foresaw that most unbelievers level the accusation at believers that we knock this rubbish without seeing it. Truth is its the same old boring rubbish repackaged. & I have better things to do. O.K? Goodnight all,pleasent dreams.

26 April 2009 at 01:47  
Anonymous churchmouse 2 said...

Sorry - ***I think I remember that
quote from Wordsworth, but haven't time to find the source.

I'd like to supplement the Einstein aspect of this thread, though... he once said: "Subtle is the Lord, but malicious he is not,"(** 297). The biographer, Isaacson, studied recently released letters and papers of Einstein's and also discussed the content/accuracy of his book with scientists at several universities. He indicates that Einstein had trouble in accepting the notion of a personal 'meddle[some]' God - Einstein was a Determinist who said: "Human beings, vegetables, or cosmic dust, we all dance to a mysterious tune, intoned in the distance by an invisible player," (392).

Einstein summarized the relationship between science and religion thus: "The situation may be expressed by an image: science without religion is lame, religion without science is blind," (Ibid 390).

I would point out to our attackers, of course, that Christians developed the first schools and universitites in the West - where they preserved and developed the approach to knowledge these secularists now imagine is their exclusive domain: science. The foundation of much of that knowledge, like Judaeo-Christianity and Islam, lay in areas around the Mediterranean.

The people I've watched in this world hold all kinds of beliefs - including that in hypocrisy! Christians make mistakes, and our faith can falter. However, as my vicar pointed out recently, faith in God imbues Christians with strength to withstand malice: we accept His Justice and Truth; and we know that all the answers lie in His Law - some of which, I would say, Einstein revealed for us. I don't see why physical and spiritual laws must be contradictory; don't we synthesize our hypotheses by interpretating facts derived from analysis? And aren't human analyses and syntheses always incomplete and fallible?

Faith also holds us responsible to God - which is why we try to keep His Law and don't believe in doing what the Muslims do vis a vis heads and gutters, etc. Cranmer's atheist (et al) visitors reject the First Commandment, by definition; but can they say which of the other nine they designate 'incorrect,' and why? In what ways should those laws justify persecution of Christians? In what ways does the New Covenant described in the New Testament (our Redemption by Christ) justify that persecution? Or do your problems arise because we uphold God's Law, no matter what you, the Moslems, the euSSR, or the UN - say and do?



***Isaacson, Walter. "Einstein: His Life and Universe." London: Simon and Schuster, 2007.

26 April 2009 at 02:00  
Anonymous no nonny said...

On Love -

Not to forget, I hope, that thinkers like St. Augustine distinguished two types of Love for us: cupiditas and caritas. Unlike the moderns, they didn't limit the definition to physical gratification. Rather, they recognized that even the lowest acts and expressions of 'wanting' can lead to something better; to Christian love, and to the Love that is God.

Some scholars even argue that's what Chaucer's Canterbury Tales is about.... the journey from the earthly city to the Heavenly City.

26 April 2009 at 02:23  
Blogger Theresa said...

Bill, Glovner,

A few thoughts on 'proving' or 'disproving' the existence of God.

When people ask for 'evidence' of the existence of God, they are generally looking for what they call 'scientific evidence' and as science is natural philosophy, that means physical evidence or theory based on physical evidence. You can take two tacks on this.

1. Show that God is a valid extension of scientific theory. Newman does this with his 'uncaused cause' argument, which is an extension of Newton's law of motion 'For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction'. The argument goes that if you follow back all the actions and reactions through the history of the universe, the birth of the stars and the creation of matter, at some point there must have been a primary action to set it all in motion, an 'uncaused cause' and that something is God. That is one way of looking at God
scientifically.

The other way is to start with the historical Jesus and establish whether or not he existed. This means that you are examining historical, cultural, linguistic and archeological evidence. The general consensus is that he did, for these reasons

1.) He is mentioned in the documents of the authorities of the time, by people who were not friendly to Christianity; Tacitus, Claudius the emperor, and Pliny the Younger.

2.) Jesus, culturally speaking, was a freak in his society. His acceptance of the Samaritans, who were hated as Roman settlers, his invitation to Matthew, who was a tax collector, to be a disciple, his treatment of women as equals and his condemnation of the Pharisees, who were actually seen as patriots; all of that would have struck a very jarring note in the Palestine of the time. In short, Jesus is not made up, because noone from his society would have invented a person like him.

3. The criterion of embarrassment. This means how much a person goes against the agenda of the writer. The disciples believed that Jesus was the Messiah and the Messiah was generally expected to be a military king who would kick out the Romans and establish a reign that would last for a thousand years. They were not looking for a preacher talking about peace and love and getting himself crucified by the authorities. They also expected the Messiah to produce heirs and this is a point that the Da Vinci Code misses completely; if Jesus had married and produced a child, the disciples would have shouted it from the rooftops, because that is what they would have wanted the Messiah to do. The only thing that would have compelled the disciples to preach Jesus the single, peace loving miracle working crucified preacher as the Messiah, would be if that was what had actually occured.

Now this proves that the historical Jesus existed; it doesn't prove that he was God, and once you have proved that Jesus did exist, the next question is who exactly was he and what did he do to prove that he was God, (which is about the most shocking claim anyone can make about themselves.)? People look for different things at this stage, but these are the most common demands;

1. Evidence of physical miracles

2. Whether Jesus had moral authority, ie was he a good person and worthy of respect;

3. Whether his teachings have a good or bad effect on people;

4. Probably the most important one; an answer to the question of suffering, especially innocent suffering.

Can I suggest guys, that you do read 'Mere Christianity' because it explains all of this far better than I could here. If you like, I will read 'The God Delusion' in return; I've been meaning to get it and this would give me a reason to. CS Lewis is very rigorous in his examination, because he did start as an atheist, and if you want to understand what we're about, it's as good a place as any.

Ok, I'm off to bed..

26 April 2009 at 02:29  
Anonymous PaganPride said...

Recusant and James

I said I was a pagan, I don't recall claiming to be a Wiccan!! Did you just assume that because I mention paganism? There are as many branches of paganism as there are branches of Christianity. And I am well aware of the history of Wicca thank you.

Unfortunately your knowledge of ancient pagans god/goddesses is faulty. Easter is named after the Saxon Goddess of Fertility - Ēostre" is the Northumbrian form while Ēastre is West Saxon -
both indicate the Spring Goddess of fertility whose symbols were the hare (morphed into the easter bunny)and the eggs of fertility. That the date of Easter is calculated from the last full moon, seems somewhat odd .. except to us.

James - presuming that Jesus actually lived, and I am not about to dispute that - then he was a Jew preaching to Jews about returning to the Jewish God. It follows then that a lot of the teaching and principles espoused in Christianity is based on the Jewish Religion.

However, much of Christian practice, symbpols and rituals were deliberately based on existing pagan practices. Cathedrals and churches were built on the ancient pagan sacred sites, (None more so than at Glastonbury and the various sacred wells around the place dedicated to St Brigid - or Bride) And pagan ritualistic practices were encouraged by Pope Julius II (I think I have the Pope correctly)to be incorporated into christian worship.

Oh - and Hel (the place we lot are consigned to by you lot) is the name of the Norse Goddess of the underworld - and I could go on ... and on ... and on .....

If you bewail the persecution of early christians by the pagan romans, you have certainly had your blood money back in quids with the crusades,inquisitions, genocides, burnings and hangings.

It is not what you believe that I take issue with. As I have said we each must find our own way to spritual enlightment - and if following the teaching of Paul(there is more about Paul in latter day Christianity than there is about Jesus the Jew) does it for you then I would not insult your intelligence with deriding your faith.

I take issue with the arrogant assumption of superiority - the fantacism that would see all that disagree with you consigned to hell and damnation (Hel .. Norse goddess of ... oh what the hell!!)- and, recusant, your demonstrable hatred of all that do not agree with you is contemptible.

Your response is a fine example of all I despise - and only serves to remind me of the reason I put all that nonsense behind me when I left my C of E boarding school.

I found that life was for living and while pagans focus on the here and now, christians focus on death and the hoped for afterlife. I chose life.

26 April 2009 at 02:59  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I hate to be that guy, but "The God who wasn't there" was released 4 years ago...

Secondly all humans should have the right to criticize anything, religion doesn't get special treatment because it is religion. A world that is truly free has the right to discuss all topics with out limitations, any thing less is tyranny.

To the theist reading this comment please remember that agnostics, atheist, skeptics, and scientist are not out against your beliefs. We're against all things supernatural and religion is not alone in this department.

26 April 2009 at 03:09  
Anonymous Preacher said...

anon 3.09.
Well said, I would however say that there are many scientists & ex atheists, agnostics, skeptics etc that are now believers in Jesus Christ, as I've already stated I belong in at least two of the above categories, I have no wish to dogmaticaly force my views on anyone who does not want them, any more than I would force a £50 note on a starving man who was to proud to take it & buy food. I just feel sorry for the way that some postings show a closed & bigoted attitude to those that do not agree with them. It's when we think we've arrived that we often find the journey hasn't yet begun, surely if science was as closed as this we would still not have invented the wheel, for it to work, true science has to be open to new discoveries.
enjoy the day.

26 April 2009 at 08:38  
Anonymous indigomyth said...

Preacher said,
//I just feel sorry for the way that some postings show a closed & bigoted attitude to those that do not agree with them.//

Would that include "the recusant"'s reply at 16:14 to "PaganPride"? There does not seem to be much openness and tolerance in evidence there?
regards,
indiogmyth

26 April 2009 at 08:59  
Anonymous len said...

Everyone has an amount of faith.
Most place it in themselves, some place it in Charles Darwin, some in Richard Dawkins, some in Buddhism,,Paganism,Communism, Fascism, Socialism,Social Secular Humanism, the list is endless,everyone has free will and can follow their intellect or their instinct,
However God placed a doorway in this corrupt, dying, world,very few will find that doorway,

The doorway is Christ, and those who place their faith in Him will not be ashamed( Romans 10:11)

26 April 2009 at 09:07  
Anonymous indigomyth said...

Who places their faith in Charles Darwin? Surely you do not mean people who know about evolution!? The Theory of Evolution requires no more faith in Darwin then the Theory of Gravity requires faith in Newton.

Also, who has "faith" in Richard Dawkins? Some people are fans of his, but is that really "faith"? Some people are fans of Madonna and Take That, does that mean that they have "faith" in them? I should say not. Dawkins is not some sort of messiah at whose feet we worship. He is just celebrated because he speaks up for atheists. Do I agree with everything he writes and says? No I do not.

However, yes everyone has faith. I have faith that the world exists, and is not just a construct of my senses, that other people exist, and are not just walking automatons, that the past existed, and is not merely a fabrication of my mind. These are "faith" positions, in the strictest possible sense.

I have no desire to use a doorway that I have to stoop down to get through. Indeed, if I did believe that God and Christ existed, I would probably be a Satanist.
Regards,
indigomyth

26 April 2009 at 09:23  
Anonymous Preacher said...

Indigomyth.
The recusant can speak for himself, as I speak for myself,
I am happy to debate or reason with any honest man or woman, but I have no time for endless arguments for arguments sake.
I respect the rights of every person to choose their destiny, I am simply saddened at the attitude of some people who are currently treading the path that I once trod showing a conceit & arrogance that is quite unnecessary in honest debate, although I as Paul once said was the chief of sinners with regard to this area. Perhaps God has taught me some humility eh?

26 April 2009 at 09:28  
Anonymous indigomyth said...

The purpose of me mentioning the recusant was to show that it is not just atheists on this thread that have been "close-minded and bigoted", and that if you truly were saddened by those two things, then the recusant should also sadden you. I was assuming that you were defending human decency, and the right for all beliefs to be received open-mindedly and tolerated, rather than merely Christian ones. I was mistaken.

I understand you desire not to become engaged in pointless debate. I talked in another comment about why I am here; to challenge and be challenged. A lot of what has been written here by believers has been rubbish, however there have been some highlights. Anonymous' raising of Alvin Plantinga philosophy is one example of an interesting proposition. Others, along the lines of the teleological and anthropic principles have been disappointingly foolish.

One thing does confuse me. The accusation of arrogance, which Cranmer himself levels against secular humanists in a different thread; that atheists claim to know everything. Surely this is the Everest of hypocrisy when coming from a True Christian TM? As Len said,
//God placed a doorway in this corrupt, dying, world,very few will find that doorway,

The doorway is Christ, and those who place their faith in Him will not be ashamed( Romans 10:11)//
Christianity claims to have all the final answers, the ultimate truth. It claims to be the only way to salvation. That seems a very arrogant position.

Of course, arrogance is dependent upon justification. Were I to say that if I released a ball on Earth, it would fall to the ground, that would be claiming knowledge of the future, and hence "arrogance" of a sort. Incidentally, this is one of the reasons why science in Muslim countries was so truncated; it was held that physical laws of the universe, the assumption that things would happen according to pattern X in the future, detracted from the freedom of Allah.

Regards,
indigomyth
P.S. In a previous thread I was given the nickname "indigomouth" by D.Singh. It seems that name becomes more and more accurate as my time on here wears on!

26 April 2009 at 10:02  
OpenID jamestheless said...

indigomyth,

"I think the difference is that belief in God posits something that exists beyond the human mind"

Indeed, but that wasn't really the point of my question. I wanted to know how intelligent atheists explain love. I suspect they would describe it as an aberration. (Which is an odd way to describe one of the best things about being human, but let's leave that to one side).

It's often the aberrations that can lead to a breakthrough, shattering restricted ways of thinking and leading to an entirely new way of looking at things.

In the late 19th century, a German Physics student who was also a talented pianist was trying to decide on a career. His supervisor advised him to become a concert pianist - all the interesting questions in Physics were more or less solved, and there was not really much left to do apart from tying up a few loose ends and resolving a couple of aberrations.

The student, who was Max Planck, decided to study one of the aberrations - the spectral distribution of heat radiation. He found it could only be explained by assuming that radiation was emitted in discrete packets, which he called "quanta". This led to quantum mechanics which turned 300 years of Newtonian science upside down.

(The other aberration was the lack of evidence for the ether, which led Einstein to formulate his theory of special relativity, again shattering the Newtonian world view).

"There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio,
Than are dreamt of in your philosophy"

26 April 2009 at 10:36  
OpenID jamestheless said...

no nonny and not a machine,

Yes, I should have mentioned that the word "love" has many different connotations. It's unfortunate that English has only one word. The New Testament uses the Greek word "agape" to describe Christian love, as opposed to "eros" for the, well, erotic variety.

The concept of "love" in the modern Western world is terribly distorted.

26 April 2009 at 10:43  
Anonymous indigomyth said...

jamestheless said,
//Indeed, but that wasn't really the point of my question. I wanted to know how intelligent atheists explain love. I suspect they would describe it as an aberration. (Which is an odd way to describe one of the best things about being human, but let's leave that to one side).

It's often the aberrations that can lead to a breakthrough, shattering restricted ways of thinking and leading to an entirely new way of looking at things.//

I do not believe love to be an aberration, in the sense of being abnormal or illogical. It is a perfectly reasonable response to close relationships.

I agree with you that aberrations and unorthodox thinking can lead to breakthroughs. However, there are obvious limits. I do not accept astrology or crystal therapy as being real, or credible.

To counter your quote, I could say that you can be so open-minded that your brain falls out.

So I acknowledge that God may exist, that Christianity may be true. However, I also do the same with astrology, horoscopes and crystal therapy. I have seen no evidence or reason for God to exist, particularly in the personal, intelligent form that is so crucial for the Abrahamic religions.
Regards
indigomyth

26 April 2009 at 11:02  
Anonymous len said...

Indigiomyth,
You got at least one thing right,
To go through the 'doorway' which is Christ you must stoop down,
the only thing that prevents you from doing this is pride!This coupled with intellectual arrogance.To say there is no God is to say "I know everything there is to know about the universe and all it contains"


AT least Pagan- Pride has been honest!
We have been around the houses so many times I`m starting to get dizzy!I will Pray for you all!!!

26 April 2009 at 11:07  
Anonymous indigomyth said...

jamestheless said,
// The New Testament uses the Greek word "agape" to describe Christian love, as opposed to "eros" for the, well, erotic variety.

The concept of "love" in the modern Western world is terribly distorted.//

In what way is the concept of "love" distorted in the West? And, in what way does the Eastern, or Middle Eastern world concept of "love" un-distorted?

And, when was the acme of "Christian love"? Would that have been when Christians were burning heretics and nonconformists, or when woman were treated virtually as property. Did not Aquinas advocate beating a disobedient woman? And what of the killing of homosexuals throughout Christian history? Or the massacre of Catholics by Protestants, and vice versa?

This is why I am so sceptical when any Christian starts talking about "love"; it seems to be a contraction of "love for everything that God orders me to do, even if it involves performing acts of horrific violence against fellow human beings"; in that respect, Osama Bin Laden is a champion of "love"; he loves the Word of Allah.

Indeed, if the Western worlds does consider "love" and "sex" to be synonyms (which I do not believe it does), then even that state of affairs is a superior one to the warped and perverted notion of "love" that Christianity has been guilty of propagating.

So, what is "Christian love"? And why do you think it is superior to what you think is the modern definition of "love"?

26 April 2009 at 11:12  
Anonymous indigomyth said...

Len said,
//To say there is no God is to say "I know everything there is to know about the universe and all it contains"//

In what way? I do not know how the universe began, or what first caused it. I admit that God may have been the first cause, but I doubt it? Where is the arrogance in that statement?

It is YOU that is claiming to knowing the why, how and when of the Universe. You claim to know what will happen after we die, how we go to heaven, and how and why the universe started. That is arrogance beyond anything that an atheist is capable of.
Regards,
indigomyth

26 April 2009 at 11:15  
OpenID jamestheless said...

PaganPride,

The point of mentioning the early Christian martyrs was not to claim victim status, but to point out that Christianity was not recognised as "based on paganism" by the pagan Romans.

And yes, there are many shameful things that have been done in the name of Christ over the centuries.

You are absolutely right that Christianity makes extensive use of pagan language (and all the other things you mentioned), because that was the "language" that was available for bringing it to the Roman Empire. I can give you an example of this - apologies if it's a bit long-winded.

Patristic theology is written mainly in Greek, drawing heavily on Neoplatonic philosophical concepts to debate the nature of the Trinity or the divinity of Christ. But it rejects many of the assumptions of Neoplatonism (for example, a pre-existing material world) and its conclusion (which if I remember rightly is a kind of absorption into the cosmic void).

Neoplatonism is not the starting point or the end, but merely the most convenient means available at the time for expressing esoteric concepts to people who were used to thinking in Neoplatonic terms.

Neoplatonism is not the base for Christian theology, so much as something which has been adapted, transformed and dedicated to Christian service, just like his followers are - we could even say "baptized".

Perhaps this sort of thing is what you meant by being based on paganism, in which case we are not really disagreeing, although I think it's rather a confusing way of describing it.

Finally, I think you must have misread the final part of my previous post. Or perhaps I didn't express it very well. There's a lot more to say about this, but I'd better save it for another occasion. Suffice it to say that I certainly don't believe that everyone who disagrees with me is necessarily condemned to Hell.

God alone will decide who is saved and I expect his decision will cause a lot of surprises!

26 April 2009 at 12:01  
OpenID jamestheless said...

indigomyth,

"I do not believe love to be an aberration, in the sense of being abnormal or illogical. It is a perfectly reasonable response to close relationships."

Has love ever led you to do anything that was abnormal, illogical or unreasonable?

As for your 11:12 post: how ironic that you ask why the Western concept of love is distorted and then present a thorough misrepresentation of Christian love!

In the unlikely event that you are sincere about wanting to know what Christian love actually is, I can do no better than refer you to St Paul's description of it in 1 Corinthians 13, one of the most famous passages in the Bible.

26 April 2009 at 12:51  
Blogger indigomyth said...

//Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. //

Its a rather woolly concept, isn't it? I was talking to Len about this on a previous post. All the attributes of "love" as described in Corinthians can be ascribed to the worst dictators and fascists.

Love is patient of what? Kind to what? Lacks envy of what? Rejoices in which truth?

Could not a white supremacist Christian (as Christian Identity are) claim that black people are like animals that need the direction of the white man's stick in order to be content? In that case, they are being loving, because they sincerely believe that they are doing good things.

Or, as in the middle ages, heretics were burned out of "Christian love"; it was thought that the flames somehow purged the person of sin, or during the Inquisition, when torture was thought to be a mechanism for saving someone's eternal soul, the reasoning being that nay degree of worldly physical pain is better than the suffering and torment of Hell. From that position, it logically follows that torturing someone is the ultimate expression of love, if you believe you are saving someone from a worse fate, were they not to be tortured.

Or perhaps a modern example? The opposition of many True Christians TM to gay marriage or civil partnerships, smacks of a lack of "love" in any meaningful sense. It is a very strange and perverted form of love that claims that deriding and decrying the mutual consenting relationship of two adults as being inferior to any other, is "kind". In this sense, "kind" can only be taken to mean the same sort of "kind" as used by Inquisitors torturing their subjects; to protect them from perceived repercussions after death. Either that, or it is some kind of misguided notion regarding the "Common good", a nebulous term in itself, in which case it is not a case of acting out of "love" for the gay couple, but rather acting out of love for the state and society. And once you go down that road, of loving institutions greater than the individual person, that racism and nationalism lie.

Indeed, I can do no better than quote one of Cranmer's own conservative heroes,

//Necessity is the plea for every infringement of human freedom. It is the argument of tyrants; it is the creed of slaves.//
The Rt Hon. William Pitt, the Younger. (Prime Minister 1783-1801, 1804-1806)

Once you, or Cranmer, or any other individual starts deciding what is "good" and "bad" for a person, and therefore define your "loving" acts according to how you perceive "goodness", we end up with a situation, once again, where any degree of brutality and degradation is permissible, under the aegis of "love".

Or to turn it about; I can say I really love Christians, that is why I want to deny them the right to have Bibles and Crosses, because I believe their lives would be better without them. I am acting out of my feeling of "love", but that is misguided.

26 April 2009 at 13:38  
Blogger Theresa said...

Indigomyth,

what would you accept as 'evidence' of God? What are you looking for?

26 April 2009 at 13:46  
Blogger indigomyth said...

Or how about Positive Christianity?

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Positive_Christianity

In truth, "Love" as a Christian concept seems a petulant and ill-willed beast, not to mention insubstantial and transient.

This is not to say that Christians do not love, that they are not kind. But it does seem that this is not due to their Christianity, but merely because of their humanity.

26 April 2009 at 13:49  
Blogger indigomyth said...

Theresa said,
//what would you accept as 'evidence' of God? What are you looking for?//

I suppose some necessity for his existence would be nice. And not merely a first cause type of existence, which would only get us as far as a non-intelligent deity. Some kind of necessity for an interventionist God.

Saying that, it is remarkably difficult to think of "evidence" as such that would convince me. I understand the flaws in my faculties, the errors in my perceptions and senses. How would I know that a particular event was not merely the result of some catastrophic brain trauma, resulting in auditory and visual delusions? I guess I could not know.

I could take this to the extreme of course, whereby, even were I to die and find myself before the White throne, I could still doubt my senses, and claim I am deluded or dreaming.

I do not know what I would take as "evidence" of God. What would it take for you to believe in unicorns, fairies or Allah, that you would not ascribe to some mental distortion, or hidden suggestion?

The best way to convince me, would not be through "evidence" of an empirical kind, but rather through logic and reason. Something a little more convincing than the 5 conventional a priori reasons. As I say, Alvin Plantinga has a very challenging philosophy, regarding Classical Foundationalism and its flaws.

In any case, even if God were required in the Universe, I am a little confused as to why I would not just make up my own! I am sure I could make "Indigomythos" at least as popular as Scientology!

What interests me is how people think that their individual experiences, usually after stressful or emotional events, can be valid evidence of Gods existence.
Regards,
indigomyth

26 April 2009 at 14:03  
Anonymous not a machine said...

theresas question is valid , as it demands some analysis from the athiest.

is there logic in possibility ??

you cite personal failiures as outlining that god doesnt exist as "things fail" and you dont see a supporting supernatural power or one that restores loss and suffering therefore QED there is no supernatural benevolent power.

so we may as just live by that maxim that s**t happens , tell people to forget as quickly as possible and indulge in whatever will distract or ease there non computaion of the illogic of death or failiure ???

My only response to this as a christian , is what an incredible comfort my faith is , but this is not proof , but then neither does equating it to being a childs passifyer.

failure and loss , are encompassed within christianity , that is why my faith guides me to look upon such illiogical events in like with a request for humility , for we are all born and we will all die , that is logical , but upon knowing this what do you do , do you please the flesh and live with self interest until spent , or do you live with a pespect for the fraility of live with gentleness and tenderness , as though in a garden that provides for all !!

i suspect logic can only take you so far , as logic reqires what is known , it has no power in the unknown . its not a cop out , but i hope shows somthing of logic

26 April 2009 at 15:57  
Blogger indigomyth said...

not a machine said,
//so we may as just live by that maxim that s**t happens , tell people to forget as quickly as possible and indulge in whatever will distract or ease there non computaion of the illogic of death or failiure ???//

Well, I do not accept that death or failure are illogical. But I understand that Christianity explains death and suffering (unsatisfactorily, I believe). It is not because of death and suffering that I do not believe in God. Indeed, the expression "sh*t happens" sums up very nicely what the world is about. I do not really believe that natural disasters, that the colours of autumn or that a lovers laugh need explanations of a cosmic, supernatural kind. I am content to see them as what I do; bad and good products of living in the universe. Things that bring pleasure, and things that bring pain.

I understand the comfort a religious belief can bring (and that is why I oppose the NSS stance on hospital chaplains). I just do not need it. So, even if God does exist, I struggle to find reasons why I actually need him. In many respects, he is superfluous to my requirements.

Epicurean philosophy informs me as to what actions I can take that maximise the joy of my life. It is not gluttony and debauchery; it is learning and loving.

26 April 2009 at 16:28  
Anonymous len said...

Indigomyth (11:15)
I do not claim to know everything about the universe,
But I take it by faith from God , The One who created the Universe.
You seem to prefer Dawkins version (where was he when the universe was created? I wonder since he seems to Know)

26 April 2009 at 16:57  
Anonymous not a machine said...

well yes indigomyth , you can live your life that way , but it doesnt prove god does not exist , you are making the case for persoanl choice.

true autum can be described as a natural event to get through a natural cycle of the earth called winter !!

however given that the most efficient forms of life are bacteria and viruses , why does the earth not remain , a large colony of bacterial soup .

please note if your frst answer , says chance and evolution , i will then ask why this is not in balance and indeed so inbalanced that somthing as complex and in natural terms so inefficient like a human being occure

26 April 2009 at 17:03  
Blogger indigomyth said...

not a machine

//well yes indigomyth , you can live your life that way , but it doesnt prove god does not exist , you are making the case for persoanl choice.//
Of course it is not proof. But then I never claimed that I had proof that God did not exist!

//please note if your frst answer , says chance and evolution , i will then ask why this is not in balance and indeed so inbalanced that somthing as complex and in natural terms so inefficient like a human being occurred//

What do you mean by balance? I don't understand in what way you are defining "balance"? And, in what way "efficient"? Efficient at what? If I say a machine is efficient, I have to give it a task to be efficient at. So, to what actions are you attributing efficiency, that a bacteria does? Maybe you mean efficiency in terms of transference of chemical energy to motion? I have not the calculations to say that a bacteria is more efficient then a human cell at getting energy from chemical sources. I am certainly more efficient at lifting a rock than a bacteria!

So, what do you mean by "balance" (balance of what with what?)
And, what do you mean by "efficiency" (efficiency at what task?)

26 April 2009 at 17:24  
OpenID jamestheless said...

indigomyth,

Your reasoning is reminiscent of the Grand Inquisitor in the Brothers Karamazov. I have no response to such a completely twisted misrepresentation of Christianity, except to quote St Paul again (Galatians 5:19-23 with added emphasis).

Now the works of the flesh are obvious, which are: adultery, sexual immorality, uncleanness, lustfulness, idolatry, sorcery, hatred, strife, jealousies, outbursts of anger, rivalries, divisions, heresies, envyings, murders, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these; of which I forewarn you, even as I also forewarned you, that those who practice such things will not inherit the Kingdom of God.

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.

26 April 2009 at 18:13  
Blogger indigomyth said...

jamestheless,

Do not blame me for Christian Identity and Positive Christianity. I assume that they are very familiar with Scripture, and yet see it as no barrier to believing the things that they do.

Notice also in that list was heresy, sorcery and idolatry. How does this fit in with Christian "love"? That those that are viewed as heretical or idolaters are condemned to Hell. It seems a small step from that condemnation to real world persecution of those that do not share Christianity's beliefs.

I would also highlight the exhortations in Leviticus to kill homosexuals and witches. It seems that Christian "love" is not as universal or pure as many would make out.

26 April 2009 at 19:02  
OpenID jamestheless said...

"Notice also in that list was heresy, sorcery and idolatry."

As are hatred, strife, outbursts of anger and murder. Rather essential ingredients for a persecution, I would have thought.

"the exhortations in Leviticus to kill homosexuals and witches."

Those are part of the Mosaic covenant between God and the Jews. This does not apply to Christians since it has been superceded by the new covenant in Jesus Christ.

Anyway, we are now digressing even further from the original digression. The time has probably come to stop testing His Grace's patience.

26 April 2009 at 21:11  
Anonymous len said...

" The Father judges no one, but has given all judgment to the Son, that all may honor the Son, just as they honor the Father.Whoever does not honor the Son does not honor the Father who sent Him. And he has given him authority to execute judgment, because He is the Son of Man.( John 5:22-12)
Last word your Grace, goodnight and God Bless.

26 April 2009 at 22:29  
Anonymous len said...

(John 5 :22-23)

26 April 2009 at 22:31  
Blogger tammyswofford said...

God called himself "I am". (Exodus 3:14) Two words, thundering His existence.

"This child is destined.... to be a sign that will be spoken against, so that the thoughts of many hearts will be revealed."
Luke 2:34,35

I AM certainly does not require my defense. The prosecutorial team, does not cause me discomfort in this regard. smile

Tammy

27 April 2009 at 00:13  
Anonymous TheGlovner said...

"As are hatred, strife, outbursts of anger and murder. Rather essential ingredients for a persecution, I would have thought"

Rather ironic these are the traits regularly shown by the religious against anyone that doesn't agree with their point of view.

27 April 2009 at 00:26  
Anonymous not a machine said...

interesting inidgomyth

a machine has no life program , it has no desire to replicate itsself .


so what do you mean by comparing a man made object to somthing born of nature , how do you equate natural efficency by somthing unnatural ???

27 April 2009 at 00:28  
Anonymous Doorkeeper said...

Indigomyth.
All questions and no answers, empty philosiphies, methinks you enjoy sowing seeds of confusion in others fields Mr Mischief maker.

27 April 2009 at 00:32  
Blogger indigomyth said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

27 April 2009 at 07:14  
Blogger indigomyth said...

//a machine has no life program , it has no desire to replicate itsself .


so what do you mean by comparing a man made object to somthing born of nature , how do you equate natural efficency by somthing unnatural ???//

Well, firstly, since I consider humans the product of natural processes, I also consider man-made machines "natural" just as I consider termite mounds and bird's nests natural.

Secondly, my question regarding efficiency was to ascertain in what regard you were using the term. Indeed, what is "natural efficiency"? I was not the one that used the word, so I do not know how you mean it. Efficiency can mean how well a an insulator prevents energy from crossing a thermal gradient. So, in what way do you ascribe "efficiency" to bacteria, that you do not describe to humans.

You mention reproduction; I have no evidence that bacteria are more energy EFFICIENT at reproduction than humans. So I do not understand in what context you are using the word efficient? Perhaps I was equating the efficiency of a man-made machine to a nature made machine quite wrongly; however, I do not know in what sense you take "efficiency" so do not know whether I was speaking incorrectly. Do you see?

Doorkeeper said,
//All questions and no answers, empty philosiphies, methinks you enjoy sowing seeds of confusion in others fields Mr Mischief maker.//

Again, no I am not. I have stated my reasons for being here in a previous comment. I have also given my philosophy, and my responses to question regarding life and death. If you cannot be bothered to track down that post, and instead choose to throw puerile insults, then that is really not my problem. Nor is it my concern if you consider my philosophies "empty".

Perhaps it is you that is trying to sow the seeds of malcontent by posting your ill-judged comment?

27 April 2009 at 07:17  
Anonymous TheGlovner said...

"I AM certainly does not require my defense. The prosecutorial team, does not cause me discomfort in this regard. smile

Tammy"

Eh? Are you for real?

In that case, I AM king of the world, give me all your money, nobody can challenge me because I simply AM.

Madness.

27 April 2009 at 11:50  
Blogger Theresa said...

Doorkeeper,

Maybe you're right, but the guy has a right to ask and be answered, if for no other reason than common courtesy and that our religion requires it of us;

'Be tactful with those who are not Christians and be sure you make the best use of your time with them. Talk to them agreeably and with a flavour of wit, and try to fit your answers to the needs of each one.' (Colossians 4:v5-6)

Ok, onto your points Indigomyth. Can I leave aside the necessity of God to exist. We exist regardless of our usefulness and so can God. It is also possible that he does not exist, regardless of how much we wished that he did. The point is; why do people believe in God? What evidence do they base it on and is the evidence they base it on, reasonable and logical?

You say that if you were looking for evidence you would prefer evidence that is logical and reasonable, rather than empirical evidence. R-ight. This is implying that empirical evidence is unreliable,and you go on to say that you may not be able to rely on your senses for evidence. This is a departure from the normal ‘rational’ position which says the belief of God should be based on scientific evidence, which by its nature is empirical and relies on the senses; what we can observe, so be aware of that.

So what evidence do people like me, base our belief in God on? It’s actually based on the scientific method; that is,experimentation. We haven’t sat down and worked out all the theological, philosophical and empirical evidence for God. That comes later, when we’re arguing with folk like you. We simply try it and find that it works. It’s the difference between learning say, football from a book and actually going out on the pitch to play it. And if you truly want to understand what God is all about, Indigomyth, at some point you will have to try it.

Christianity is based on one rather striking idea. The idea is that 2000 years ago, there was a man called Jesus who claimed to be the Son of God and to be divine. He proved this by miracles and by rising from the dead. He is also moral, which is another departure from the pagan gods; they are not, if you read the myths about them. In short, God is a person, not a theory, or a philosophy or a set of rules, but a person. And to get to know him, you have to do what you would do with any person; talk to him, listen to him, read his teachings and walk in his shoes to get the feel of what he was about. And only by doing that would you really ‘get’ why people believe in God. Because when you talk he talks back. When you start really trying to live by Jesus’ teachings, your life goes haywire, but in a kind of good way. And when the going gets tough, you become aware of strength that isn’t your own. You become a new person and you start to understand what living life and living it to the full is about.

So this is my suggestion if you are sincere about understanding us; try to be a Christian for a week. Say some prayers, about the things that worry you, or things you need help for. Try to tune in. Follow the teachings of Jesus and see how much it affects your everyday life. Cut out backbiting and sarcasm and drop the dirty jokes; tell clean ones instead .Give to the poor, defend the weak, tell the truth, stand up for justice whether it’s a small matter or a big one. It won’t be long before you’re noticed. And ask God for help when it gets hard; it does. Keep doing that and you will find the evidence that you’re looking for, and you will start to understand why we believe what we do. As I say, I could go through all the philosophical arguments til Tib’s Eve and you still wouldn’t be any further forward; you can only learn to go, by going in this business.

Hope that’s helpful. Have bought God Delusion btw; will post on my own blog once I’ve read it.

Drat, I missed the 100th post; I'm rotten old 103..

27 April 2009 at 13:16  
Anonymous len said...

I would say to all the Christians out there you are wasting your time to keep on preaching the gospel of Jesus Christ to the likes of indigomyth and the Glovner, they clearly have satanic strongholds built into their minds which reject the truth.
When we give someone the Gospel and they reject it, you are to shake the dust off your feet and go on because you have done all that God has required of you to do for that person.
You are not responsible for their not knowing about God. It is up to us to tell them, then they have responsibility for their own decisions after they know what is right.

27 April 2009 at 13:32  
Anonymous Doorkeeper said...

To the Bretheren:
Listen, the scripture warns against wasting time with vain babblers, puffed up with their own conceited ideas. Len is right. "cast not your pearls before swine, or they will turn and trample you".

27 April 2009 at 13:45  
Anonymous Doorkeeper said...

Theresa:
Indigomyth said, 26/4/09.: "I have no desire to use a doorway that I have to stoop down to get through. INDEED IF I DID BELIEVE THAT GOD AND CHRIST EXISTED, I WOULD PROBABLY BE A SATANIST."
Waste no more time!

27 April 2009 at 14:10  
Blogger Chalcedon said...

Interesting UN resolution. Rather at odds with freedom of speech and UN human rights declaration. So, when does the first Christian church open in Riadh then?

27 April 2009 at 14:35  
Anonymous TheGlovner said...

Theresa.

Insightful, intelligent and interesting post. It is only a shame you are let down by the people immediately following you.

I will deal with their points first before returning to the points that you have made.

Len
"satanic strongholds built into their minds which reject the truth.
"

As I lack the belief in god I also lack the belief in all gods and supernatural entities, this includes "satan" and so your comments seem if anything a little odd, but each to their own.

"then they have responsibility for their own decisions after they know what is right."

It is the arrogance of people such as you that make the entire teachings of the church so abhorrent to my mind. I never assume to be right and question everything. The very fact that you are right because you say you are right is just something that can never sit comfortably with me and as such I have no desire to align myself with people which display the same attitude traits as yourself, and unfortunately a growing number of "believers" share your attitude.

Doorkeeper

"Listen, the scripture warns against wasting time with vain babblers, puffed up with their own conceited ideas. Len is right. "cast not your pearls before swine, or they will turn and trample you"."

I believe your scriptures also say "let him who is without sin cast the first stone". And you have repeatedly shown your good christian ideals by the abuse and arrogance throughout the thread. Congratulations on ruining your credibility.

Doorkeeper again.

""I have no desire to use a doorway that I have to stoop down to get through. INDEED IF I DID BELIEVE THAT GOD AND CHRIST EXISTED, I WOULD PROBABLY BE A SATANIST."
Waste no more time!"

It was a hypothetical statement, quite clearly, but your choice not to treat it as such says far more about you than it does indigomyth.

Back to the only person that has given anything actually worth replying to, Theresa.

'Be tactful with those who are not Christians and be sure you make the best use of your time with them. Talk to them agreeably and with a flavour of wit, and try to fit your answers to the needs of each one.' (Colossians 4:v5-6)

Now this is something I can agree with, I don't think anyone’s thoughts should be changed by force but only by reasoning. And I certainly don't think there is nothing useful to be found with the religions the world over. They can provide a good moral framework to live by. Although I do also believe that this moral framework is not religiously exclusive and can be gained without any contact with religion.

On the subject of evidence supporting a god though I just can't see it. For everything I am told is evidence of a god I say there are thousands of other explanations which are just as much if not more plausible. My point really is that I cannot see how god is the appropriate conclusion to jump to when we are presented with something we don't understand. I prefer to go with the conclusion that it is something which at this point I am incapable of understanding and just enjoy the mystery.

When it then comes to living by Jesus' teaching which you cover later in your post, I can safely say I follow a number of traits that have been preached in your bibles by this chap, but as I have covered previously I don't need the teaching to come directly from the church as I personally
"believe" that everyone is capable of living their life how they choose although a lot of it will be down to the quality of their upbringing on whether they have been instilled with decent moral values. So I appreciate the churches can give these moral values through the teachings of their religion, but I also believe that religious people can do evil things (as can the non-religious). So taking these points into account it appears to me that religion makes no difference to the attitude of the individual, it is only the individual themselves that can make the difference.

As for living as a christian I was actually a catholic for the first few years of my life. So I can say that I have tried it, but I began to question the teachings at an early age and was never once given any satisfactory answers (if any) to my questions, at this point I decided I could not knowingly continue the charade and made a conscious decision to leave. There are still catholic members in my family and my fiancé’s family are practising catholics, but we can still live together quite happily because I am simply a good person without the fear of reprisals due to faith.

27 April 2009 at 16:13  
Blogger Theresa said...

Glovner,

Ta for the reply.I will come back to this later tonight as I'm going out.

27 April 2009 at 17:16  
Blogger indigomyth said...

Theresa,

I echo theGlovner's commendation of your attitude and sentiment. It is rather a pity it is not more common among your fellow believers.

I do not know if Cranmer will allow this to stay up, as he has previously forbidden links to political blogs, but maybe you
will find this interesting
www.friendlyatheist.com/2009/04/22/ten-tips-for-christian-evangelists-courtesy-of-atheists/

27 April 2009 at 18:19  
Anonymous Doorkeeper said...

Now the serpent was more cunning than any beast of the field which the Lord God had made.
Beware lest anyone cheat you through philosophy and empty deceit, according to the tradition of men, according to the basic principles of the world, and not according to Christ.

27 April 2009 at 18:30  
Blogger indigomyth said...

Doorkeeper,

I would personally have gone with,

//This wisdom descends not from above, but is earthly, sensual, devilish.// -James 3:15

it packs more of a punch

27 April 2009 at 19:22  
OpenID jamestheless said...

"Rather ironic these are the traits regularly shown by the religious against anyone that doesn't agree with their point of view."

I didn't realise that I had exhibited any of those traits - I was under the impression it was a civilised discussion. If I have unwittingly expressed hatred towards you or anyone else, I apologise sincerely.

Of course, the non-religious have been known to go in for this sort of thing as well. Consider the tens of millions of political prisoners killed in the USSR in the 1930s, or in China in the 1960s, for example. Or the priests crucified by Greek Communists in the 1960s, or the nuns raped during the Spanish Civil War.

No need to labour the point, I hope. All power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.

Christians are well aware that human nature is flawed. We don't delude ourselves that people are perfect, especially not ourselves; reflecting on our own sins should be enough to refute that (and I certainly have plenty to think about in that respect!). We know that we frequently turn away from God and do things that we know are wrong, which can be extremely damaging to ourselves and to other people. We know that we are in need of God's grace to help us turn around (the literal meaning of "repent") and stop sinning.

I would heartily endorse Theresa's suggestion to try living as a Christian for a week. If something seems impossible or doesn't make sense, don't give up; put it to one side, after giving it your best shot, and leave it for later. It's surprising how often, when you have a seemingly insurmountable problem and come back to it after a year or two, it doesn't look anything like as difficult.

27 April 2009 at 19:32  
OpenID jamestheless said...

indigomyth,

It packs even more of a punch if you read it in context!

The "wisdom" referred to in that verse is bitter envying and having strife in your heart. (see v.14)

"For where envying and strife is, there is confusion and every evil work." (v.16)

This is the opposite of true wisdom, which comes from God (see 1:17):

"But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, and easy to be entreated, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality, and without hypocrisy.
"And the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace of them that make peace." (vv 17-18)

The translation is a bit misleading - "sensual" would be better rendered as "natural" or "unspiritual".

27 April 2009 at 19:57  
Blogger indigomyth said...

jamestheless,

Indeed it seems to! Though, since I lead a very pleasant life, yet do not believe in God, and am not plagued by envy and strife, confusion or every evil work. Perhaps my atheism is sent from above? Though Christianity seems to work very well for many other people, I seem to not require it to lead a happy life.

//Consider the tens of millions of political prisoners killed in the USSR in the 1930s, or in China in the 1960s, for example. Or the priests crucified by Greek Communists in the 1960s, or the nuns raped during the Spanish Civil War.//

Quite. Stalin was a convinced atheist, and he instituted political suppression on a massive scale.

//I would heartily endorse Theresa's suggestion to try living as a Christian for a week.//

An interesting idea. However, even were my life to be immeasurably improved my that experience, it would not evidence of God as such. Also, which type of Christian? There are avid "Christian" supporters of the BNP on this website; people who share your belief in Christ, and yet see no conflict with that belief, and voting for, or supporting a party that actively campaigns for a white-only Britain. If being a True Christian TM means subscribing to that sort of ideology, than I would rather not bother. Indeed, any ideology that can be held to be compatible with supporting or voting for the BNP would be one that I would be most dubious of adhering to.
Regards,
indigomyth

27 April 2009 at 21:21  
Anonymous TheGlovner said...

"I didn't realise that I had exhibited any of those traits - I was under the impression it was a civilised discussion. If I have unwittingly expressed hatred towards you or anyone else, I apologise sincerely."

Didn't suggest for a moment you had. Just pointing out the irony of the way a lot of religious people act compared to what they preach, evidence of which can be seen in this thread, although not from yourself, granted.

27 April 2009 at 21:23  
OpenID jamestheless said...

"Though, since I lead a very pleasant life, yet do not believe in God, and am not plagued by envy and strife, confusion or every evil work."

But if your life suddenly became very unpleasant and you were (unjustly) assailed by evil works, would you still feel the same? Not that I wish this upon you, but these things happen from time to time.

As for which Christian, your local branch of the C. of E. is probably the best place to start. If nothing else, you may gain a fuller appreciation of His Grace's frustrations with it.

No doubt you're aware of Galatians 3:28 ("In Christ there is neither Jew nor Greek..."). It seems to me that the BNP plays on the total exasperation many people have with the mainstream parties, not to mention fear of extremist Islam. I can understand why some people see it as the only party that takes their concerns seriously - wrongly, in my view - but I would never even consider voting for them.

I think you'll find that any ideology can be used to support chauvinistic nationalism - Hinduism for the BJP party in India, pseudo-pagan mythology for the Nazis, Communism for the USSR (which was heavily into Russian nationalism, as anyone from its satellite states or the non-Russian republics will tell you).

But we're digressing again...

27 April 2009 at 22:16  
Anonymous Lost cause said...

I can't wait for the divine fascism to be implemented, when Christ returns and imposes his will on earth for the 1000 year holy Reich.

It wont be the gas chamber for you Indigomyth it will be the bottomless pit.


Hail Jesus

28 April 2009 at 00:45  
Blogger Theresa said...

Hi Glovner,

I'm back home again, albeit somewhat late. Thanks for your reply; it was very interesting and informative. This might be a bit rambling, but I'll do my best.

You have something of the same background as myself; I'm a Catholic, was brought up that way and I was a member of the awkward squad, always asking questions. I was fortunate in that I had a father who was more than willing to argue the toss with me about anything at all; I learned more from him than I ever did from anyone else about religion and God. I also went to a school that was run by a religious order and they were also willing to engage and talk about the harder questions re faith. So all told, I was lucky. They were nearly all good examples of Christian life as well.

Having said that, I didn’t take a huge interest in religion and God until I was older. I said my prayers and went to church and I did believe in God, but it wasn’t until I went to a place called Taize, that I actually ‘got it’ and started to think of God as an actual person. It was a real shock to the system. What I would compare it to, is a fish swimming in the sea looking for where the water was, and suddenly realising that it was completely submerged in it. It’s a very intense experience; it is like falling in love and it’s also intensely irritating to everyone around you while you’re going through that. Things do settle down after a while, but you’re never the same after it; every journey that you take in life after that is to try and find that place again, where everything makes sense and everything has meaning.

I think the thing about being a Christian and faith, is that it’s an ongoing process. You start off with the bare bones as a child; you are taught right from wrong by application of carrot and stick, but as you get older those bones have to be fleshed out, big questions have to be asked and everyone has to find their own answer to them or find a way of living with it. Sadly, after primary and when you have been confirmed, that generally doesn’t happen. RE in school tends to be rather ad hoc and you are too busy sitting exams to be worrying about the meaning of life..

Which brings me to yourself. You say that you were asking questions and couldn’t get answers; also that you made a conscious choice to leave the church. Most people that leave, drift away; they don’t consciously choose to leave. You are also on this blog debating with ourselves, which would suggest to me that you’re still looking for those answers. Did you ever try to ask God those questions, while you were still going to church? Because if you had, you would have been in good company. Moses went up a mountain and demanded to know why his people suffered.. Jacob wrestled with the angel of the Lord. And Job demanded to know why the innocent suffered at the hands of the guilty. So you wouldn’t be the first or last to wrestle with God; all of us have to do that at some point in our faith. It’s part of the journey. For myself, it was about suffering. As I went through this phase, I started to remember a lesson that I had had in RE years ago. Our teacher had picked out a number of passages in the gospels that illustrated Jesus’ humanity; there was accounts of him getting tired and sitting down; getting thirsty, crying for a friend who had died, exasperation at his disciples, anger at the Pharisees, being afraid and of course suffering physically and dying. And I realised that there was nothing in my human experience that was alien to God; he had been through it all and understood the frustrations of being limited and powerless. I had my answer and I no longer felt alone in what I was experiencing.

You say that you follow the good traits of the religion you learned and you can do that without resorting to faith in God. I know what you mean, but that’s not all that God is about. It’s actually about becoming the person you were meant to be, to have life and have it to the full. I repeat; read Jesus’ teachings. Ask yourself what you would be doing right now if you were following the spirit and not merely the letter of the law and where it would take you. In the meantime, if you are looking for better teaching than the P5 RE curriculum can I suggest Ronald Rolheisler as a starting point. Here’s the link to his column http://www.ronrolheiser.com/

This guy is genuinely wise, and you will enjoy his writing regardless of whether you believe in God or not.

Another late night and still to answer Indigomyth …(sigh)

28 April 2009 at 02:10  
Blogger indigomyth said...

jamestheless,

//As for which Christian, your local branch of the C. of E. is probably the best place to start. If nothing else, you may gain a fuller appreciation of His Grace's frustrations with it.//

Despite my earlier comment regarding Satanism, I have done some research into the Quakers, and I think that would be a Christian denomination that I could get on with. They seem rather more balanced than many other Christian sects I have encountered.

Lost cause said,

//It wont be the gas chamber for you Indigomyth it will be the bottomless pit.//

Cool, so I will be falling for all eternity!? Kind of like flying forever. Does not seem that unpleasant really. Better that than eternal worship of the god-king.

28 April 2009 at 07:13  
Blogger Theresa said...

Hi Indigomyth,

Have had a wee look at your ‘ten tips for evangelists.’ I’m taking it as read that you don’t mind me using your name, and as you have already said that you are here to challenge and be challenged, that you won’t mind me arguing the toss with with you.

Right. Onto ‘evidence’ of God again. I think we need a clarification of terms here.

Evidence - anything that supports the truth, or otherwise of an assertion. This might be empirical, historical, philosophical or experiential.

Theory - a conclusion which might be reasonably drawn from the evidence available, but can be open to question.

Proof - a conclusion that is irrefutable from the evidence available and with which none of the evidence conflicts.


I think both of us can agree that neither of us can ‘prove’ our respective positions; we can posit a theory based on the evidence available, hence Dawkins carefully worded phrase
‘There probably is no God’ or as I would say ‘There probably is a God’.

We both have the same evidence available to us. But like opposing lawyers in a court, we are both choosing the evidence that suits us;

I have chosen

Newman’s uncaused cause argument;
Historical evidence for Jesus existence ;
The uniqueness of Jesus in his society; Jesus as a freak
Christianity as a moral religion.

And I’ll add to that

The effect of Christianity on myself and others that I know.

You have chosen

1.The commonality of morality regardless of creed;
2.The hypocrisy of some of those who follow Christ;
3.Lack of logic and reason in belief in God (although you haven’t made clear exactly where you feel this lies yet);
4.Your own personal lack of a need for a personal interventionist God.

You said that you preferred evidence that was not empirical, which was why I suggested that you try Christianity for yourself. Your reply to that has been twofold; one, that it wouldn’t be evidence and two that you wouldn’t know which kind of Christianity to follow anyway. Which means my arguments have been rejected in the following fashion

1. Newman. Don’t like it because it’s empirical and could be a non intelligent source
2, 3 and 4. Don’t want to deal with empirical evidence.
5. Experience isn’t evidence(?) and I don’t know which Christians to follow anyway.

Which means I now have to tackle your arguments.

I can’t do anything about 3, because I don’t know exactly where you feel the lapse in logic is in my beliefs and I can’t do anything about 4, because I can’t make you feel a need that you don’t feel. But you want to challenge and be challenged and that I can certainly do with your first two arguments.

Part of the trouble with Christianity now, is that it’s passe. It’s been around for 2000 years and so what seemed very radical, is now familiar. And people assume that the morality espoused by Christ, is common to all religions. But it’s not. Firstly it is a complete departure from pagan gods, who represented various aspects of the character and were powerful, but they did not have moral authority. Secondly, the idea that all men were equal, is a uniquely Christian idea. It’s been more honoured in the breach than the observance, but that was the reason the Romans so persecuted the early Church, because they saw this as dangerous to order, particularly in the army. Thirdly, no other god offers himself in sacrifice for his people; it’s always the other way round; we have to make the sacrifice. Fourthly,forgiving your enemies is perhaps the most unique characteristic of all. In other cultures that are as moral as ours, forgiveness is seen as a sign of weakness, not of strength. Do not underestimate how radical Christian morality is. It has its similarities to other religions, but it is unique in other ways and it is this uniqueness that marks it out and means that it has survived.

Which leaves me with your second point; the hypocrisy of some of the followers of Christ and your subsequent reluctance to take up my suggestion of being a Christian for a week. I’m taking it that you mean really serious breaches of Christ’s teaching, because none of us are perfect, and a man’s reach must exceed his grasp or what’s a heaven for?
So I am assuming hypocrisy of the Pharisarical kind here.
Firstly, it is clear that you understand what Christian morality is. You must, because you recognise when someone is going against it; ie when they are being uncharitable, racist, arrogant etc. You understand that these all go against the spirit of Christianity and what’s more, you disapprove of these sentiments. So you do understand what being a Christian requires.
Secondly, you have addressed those who do not practice what they preach. But you have not addressed those who do. For example, my church (the Catholic church) looks after half of all HIV sufferers in Africa, despite the fact that only 17% of Africa is Catholic. This is a figure poses a couple of questions. Firstly, what is it in religion that inspires this kind of action; secondly, where has everyone else got to? The answer is that Christ challenges and develops people in a way that ordinary keep-your-nose-clean morality doesn’t..
Don’t you feel challenged by those who go out to places like Darfur, when everyone else is running out of them? Or by people like Magnus McFarlane Barrow, who set up Mary’s Meals, a scheme to feed children and educate them in Africa and which has grown exponentially over the past few years? Didn’t you want to cheer when Pope John Paul gave George Bush an absolute b***cking in front of the entire Western world about Guantanamo Bay? How about the priest in Northern Uganda who broadcasts bulletins every night to the child soldiers, asking them to surrender and they will be offered amnesty? He has to keep moving because the rebel army has put a price on his head. And in the midst of your comfortable life, Indigomyth, isn’t there just a small part of you somewhere, that wishes you were like them, doing something like that? There was in me, and that is why I am where I am now. If you want to be challenged, it’s in front of you.

Regards

Theresa

28 April 2009 at 12:17  
Blogger Theresa said...

Bill,

See what you've gone and started..

28 April 2009 at 12:22  
Blogger McKenzie said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

28 April 2009 at 15:22  
Blogger indigomyth said...

Theresa,

First off, let me thank you for taking the time to respond. I cannot debate all your points in one post, but will give one or two attention here.

Your characterisation of Christianity as a religion of "all men being equal" is a very new idea, as I am sure you will recognise. Christianity was used as justification for hundreds of years of absolute monarchy, for each man having his station, of the classification of society into those that fight, those that work and those that pray. Indeed, there is not a massive change in social arrangement in places like pagan Britain when it converts to Christianity; you still end up with the same caste system. In fact, to some degrees it is now even more static, because the hierarchy is supported by Christianity. Also, during the 17th and 18th centuries, many Christians claimed that their religion justified slavery, on the basis that some men are more worthy than others. So I do not really accept your notion that "all men are equal" is a fundamental or foundational concept of Christianity. Yes, it is in Modern Christianity, but not so in past incarnations of the faith.

Also, I do not really agree with your statement regarding why the early Christians were persecuted. The early Christians were based in small sects, and were very rigid and uncompromising in their beliefs. The Romans were quite accepting of other faiths, like the Greeks, because they could equate the Gods in one pantheon to the Gods in their own; they were very tolerant of other theologies. Christians however were very definite that they had the only correct version of God, and this, obviously, annoyed the Romans a lot. They believed that such action was liable to anger their Gods. Such certainty was threatening to their existence. Also, the early Christian cults were secretive, and the rituals they talked about were very suspicious. They talked about eating and drinking the body and blood of a man! They were thought by many to be cannibals. The transubstantiation was an entirely alien concept, and it is little wonder it evoked suspicion and fear!

Also, you ignore Buddhism, which advocates peacefulness and non-violence, forgiveness of enemies. So it seems that Christianity is not wholly unique in its response to negative emotions.

Now the second point.

I know what contemporary Christianity calls "right" and "wrong" and am therefore surprised when those claiming to be Christians breach the modern conventions.

There are many great and good things done in the name of God, and Christianity, there is no denying that fact, and I entirely support Christians doing good in the community. But then, I also recognise that all other religions have their great and the good which protect the weak and suffering. People do good things, regardless of their faith. Yes, Christians may do more things to help, and maybe that does show how modern Christianity is interpreted, but this is not really an argument for the existence of God, but rather the humanity of mankind.

//1. Newman. Don’t like it because it’s empirical and could be a non intelligent source
2, 3 and 4. Don’t want to deal with empirical evidence.
5. Experience isn’t evidence(?) and I don’t know which Christians to follow anyway.//

The cosmological argument (Newmans) I reject not because there is empirical evidence, but because there is none. No conclusion can be drawn about the initial cause of the Universe, so I do not see why we should give it more attributes then is necessary. Why can it not just be an un-intelligent force? Oh yes it COULD be intelligent, but why believe that it is? What evidence, or reason, forces to make the leap form non-intelligent first cause, to intelligent, interested first cause?

I actually do not consider the hypocrisy of Christians to be an argument against God, merely an argument against truly knowing what God wants.

I look forward to your response.
Regards,
indigomyth
P.S. Hopefully it will be more useful than McKenzie's

28 April 2009 at 18:45  
Anonymous len said...

Bill,( if your still there)
'For since in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom did not know Him, God was pleased through the foolishness of what was preached to save those who believe.Jews demand miraculous signs and Greeks look for wisdom, but we preach Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles, but to those whom God has called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ is the power and the wisdom of God. For the foolishness of God is wiser than mans wisdom and the weakness of God is stronger than mans strength'.
( 1 Corinthians 1:21-31)

28 April 2009 at 21:49  
Blogger McKenzie said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

28 April 2009 at 21:55  
Anonymous len said...

I would like to say to all those out there who are genuinely seeking God that God is there to be found! God made himself known to His creation through the Lord Jesus Christ.
However if you are merely playing intellectual mind games you will probably be disappointed!.

28 April 2009 at 22:09  
Blogger Theresa said...

Hi Indigomyth,











You don’t give up, do you. Ok, I’ll go through your points.

Let’s start with what we agree with. I’m glad we agree that hypocrisy is not a reason for disbelieving in God. That’s progress. And I don’t disagree with what you say about the Romans and their attitude to Christians, but what I say is true as well. Christianity did cut across classes in those days and the Romans were very uneasy about it, especially because Christianity started to become very popular in the army. (It is the reason today that Christianity is unpopular; politicians in this country don’t like it because it cuts across political loyalties and it is unwelcome in India where it cuts across the caste system ).

Which brings us to our first point of disagreement; equality. Now you are correct that it took a long time for this to rise to the surface, although Christians always accepted spiritual equality; the rich and the poor would have to answer to the same judgement before God. But the churches laid the foundations of it; they set up monasteries, they took in the poor, they educated those who were smart but poor in return for them taking holy orders and they did protect people from the greater excesses of state punishment. That was what Thomas Beckett was all about. And slavery was abolished, pushed forward by people like William Wilberforce. Consider this. Before Christianity, there were many great civilisations that lasted longer than ours, yet not one of them abolished slavery. It took Western civilisation, with its Christian ethos, to do that. Do you think that was coincidence?

Next up; Buddhism. You say that Buddhism teaches forgiveness of enemies. But it doesn’t teach forgiveness in the Christian sense; it teaches karma. That is, whatever you do, will be done back to you in full. And it also teaches that someone’s state in life is related to sins in a previous life. There is no get-out-of-jail-free card. Christianity teaches that if you repent, Christ will take your sins upon himself. It’s very, very different.

Back to Newton and Newman. Let me lay this out a little more clearly;

Newman’s theory is based on Newton’s law of motion ‘ For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction.’

This law of motion was arrived at after numerous experiments with dropped objects, trollies and the like. You know the stuff; I spent many an unhappy hour with ticker tape in Physics.

Newton’s law of motion is based on empirical evidence.

Therefore Newmans theory, which is based on Newton’s law of motion, is also based on empirical evidence; it is a logical progression of it and Big Bang theory.

Now you ask why assume that this force is an intelligent one. It’s this; if you carry this all to its logical conclusion, then at some point something came out of nothing. Matter didn’t always exist; nor did the universe. (The starting date is 13.7 billion years ago I think.) Now this goes against all the laws of physics and logic. Something can’t come from nothing; everything that we know is a re-arrangement of existing matter. Therefore, the only solution to the problem is that an intelligent force created it, because nothing can’t just decide to be something one day. It needs help. That is what we call God.

Right, hope that’s useful. I feel Indigomyth, that you ask a lot of questions, but you haven’t asked any of the ones that really matter to you. I think that is what your detractors are trying to say to you on this thread. I think you should look past the insults and consider what actually does matter to you. I’ve gone in to bat here simply to show that we do have a thinking faith and that we are not as simple as we are sometimes made out to be, but I don’t imagine for a minute that any these arguments matter to you, except maybe that I took the trouble to do it. I hope you find what you are looking for.

Regards,

Theresa

28 April 2009 at 22:54  
Blogger McKenzie said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

28 April 2009 at 23:20  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

McKenzie,

I'm flummoxed. Or even fluxed..

29 April 2009 at 01:08  
Blogger Joshua said...

To Quote your Grace....

"There is smug ignorance, a gross oversimplification and caricature that serves as an analytical understanding of religion today; it is the common intellectual currency. A bridge has to be built by Christians and others being firm in resisting increasingly aggressive attempts to still our voices."

Thank you for this...

Christus Victor+

29 April 2009 at 03:11  
Blogger Joshua said...

one more comment...

assertion of the opposite (in an argument) requires no proof...

Oldest trick in the book, along with the Strawman Argument and the Red Herring...

The thing that hath been, it is that which shall be; and that which is done is that which shall be done: and there is no new thing under the sun.

Christus Victor+

29 April 2009 at 03:18  
Blogger indigomyth said...

Joshua,

//assertion of the opposite (in an argument) requires no proof...//

Perhaps. But then, it depends on which side of the argument you stand on. To claim that there is an invisible pink unicorn requires no evidence, but then the opposer of that proposition also requires no evidence. Indeed, the very lack of evidence FOR the IPU is significant. In the same way, atheism is merely showing that there is no evidence for God's existence.

How can you provide evidence of a lack of something, if the something that you are proposing the lack of is insubstantial and ephemeral? I can no more prove that God does not exist, than I can that the IUP does not exist. Or, to put it more succinctly,

//What can be asserted without evidence, can be dismissed without evidence.//

Regards,
indigomyth

29 April 2009 at 07:52  
Blogger McKenzie said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

29 April 2009 at 10:18  
Anonymous Doorkeeper said...

These are grumblers,complainers,walking according to their own lusts; and they mouth great swelling words, flattering people to gain advantage.
But you beloved remember the words which were spoken before by the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ:
how they told you that that there would be mockers in the last time who would walk according to their own ungodly lusts.
These are worldly persons who cause divisions, not having the spirit.

29 April 2009 at 11:14  
Blogger McKenzie said...

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29 April 2009 at 12:10  
Anonymous len said...

During the Protestant reformation of the 1500`s, Martin Luther articulated a timeless distinction between two approaches to knowing God. He labeled one a " theology of glory" and applied it to those who believe they can attain to a glorious knowledge of God by human goodness, religious effort, mystical experiences, or the wisdom of human reason. According to this view, God manifests Himself most often through blessings, victory, success, miracles power,and other exhilarating experiences of "glory." By contrast Luther argued that the biblical way to know God goes through a "theology of the cross". God has " Hidden himself" where human wisdom would not expect to find Him,that is in the lowliness and the suffering of the man Jesus Christ, and especially in His humiliating death on a roman cross. As Luther puts it" true theology and recognition of God are in the crucified Christ". So rather than finding God by ascending to Him through our efforts, wisdom, or self-initiated experiences,God descended to us in Jesus whose glory was in the least -expected of places- the cross- and in a way where He can be found by faith alone.

29 April 2009 at 18:39  

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